Knowing the presence of those who are absent

In Luke 24 & Acts 1 we experience the stories of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Jesus is taken out of their sight.

Now the disciples are left living out their faith with Jesus physically absent

Remember the struggle that Thomas had? Actually all of them doubted till they saw for themselves. John 20:24-31

We are “those who do not see and yet believe.”

There are some who think that when the physical presence of a person is gone, that they are completely gone from our lives and from the world. We know by faith that Jesus sent his Holy Spirit to the church, but even before that happened there was plenty of evidence that he wasn’t really gone.

The New Testament tells:

  1. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20Remember that I will always be with you.
  2. Jesus taught the disciples in John 13 that they were to care for each other as he cared for them, and that in so doing they would show him to the world
  3. Jesus taught in Matthew 25:34-36 that Jesus is present to us in those who are in need, when we care for them and when we don’t.
  4. Paul then builds on all of this teaching by developing a new idea – that together his disciples are the Body of Christ – the whole church is the presence of Jesus in the world, for good or for ill. This is closely connected to what Jesus taught in John 13.

What does this mean for us?

Certainly that Jesus is still with us, even if we do not see him as he was.

  1. We remember
  2. We care for each other as he cares for us
  3. We care for the world as he cares for the world
  4. We are a part, we are involved and present in the church if we want to fully experience His presence with us in the world

It also means that our loved ones are still with us even though they are physically gone:

  1. We need to tell their stories to each other and to those who never knew them
  2. We need to care for each other as they cared for us
  3. We need to live their life lessons and care for the world as they did
  4. We need to show up for our own lives as a part of the community God has given to us.

Have you lost a loved one through death, or even just the distance and separation of a move, a break up or some other event? You can still experience their presence with you, and can express their presence in the world for others, by following these four steps. How can you tell their story to others? What about that person is special, unique, distinct or important to you and to others? How did they impact the community around them – how did they serve others? In serving another, you may encounter the one you miss. Seek how you might incorporate those thoughts, attitudes or words or behaviors into your own life.

And as you seek to live as a follower of Jesus, when you struggle to “feel him with you” these four steps will help you to experience him. Any one of them is helpful – the impact of several or all of them working together is life changing. These are foundational, they are basics of what it means to live a spiritual life in relationship with God through Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord. And, as we will see next week, it is through these things that the presence of the Holy Spirit becomes real to us as well.

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