7. But in Jesus, we are given human responsibility to create withness with one another.
The nature of God is withness.
From the divine dance of the Holy Trinity to the very withness of Jesus, all of God’s glory is withness.
What I mean by “withness” is presence–the eternal and constant being with someone. And this idea of withness isn’t exclusively God’s domain, but it is quintessentially God.
From the God of presence in creation, to the God of liberation from oppression, to the God of witness in fragility, God’s very relationship with us and with the whole world is found in relationship.
God most expresses God’s self in presence with. With humanity, creation, even God’s very being.
This is withness.
And this is God’s fundamental nature.
It is also God’s mission.
The Missio Dei
God’s mission is to create and fulfill withness. And God also made us co-creators and practitioners of withness.
God made withness with us through a partnership with Jesus. Jesus came to be with us and to teach us this withness.
From gathering around tables to eat and drink in remembrance of Jesus to our healing Jesus in our hospitals, feeding Jesus in our soup kitchens, sheltering Jesus in our homeless shelters, welcoming Jesus in the refugee, or visiting Jesus when he’s incarcerated, we are practicing withness with God as we practice it with one another.
This is fundamental to the Christian identity and vocation. Don’t just take my word on it, take Jesus’s.
At the Last Supper and the Great Commission, the Beatitudes and the teaching on presence in Matthew 25.
Withness is active. Even when we’re sitting next to someone else in silence.
Withness is also mutual. It is sharing and connecting. It is reaching out and it is also receiving. This makes withness about connection and presence.
And we are called to become artists skilled in the craft of withness.
Withness is active
More than anything else, Jesus talked about actions. But particular kind of actions. He described actions which create, inspire, provoke, and heal. Actions which engage the isolated and those who have broken with community. Actions which both unite and reunite.
And at its most basic, this act of creativity is truly about intimacy. Creating and breeding intimacy with other people. Being vulnerable and giving others the opportunity to be freed into vulnerability.
Jesus taught intimacy more than anything else.
Just like Jesus never spoke of taking him into your heart or making him a personal savior, he also never spoke to faith as a passive thing. Faith is found in the example of a mustard seed which grows to such a remarkable bush it would act like a tree so that it could provide a nesting space for birds. Or such a faith which could allow us to compel a mountain into the sea.
For Jesus, the very act of believing necessitates a response. A response to draw closer to someone else. And to draw them closer to you.
Acts which draw us all closer to God.
[This is Thesis #7 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]