Is Jesus the Answer?
A Guest Post By Peter Stevens
Last week, I attended the Slow Church Conference. While driving down Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, I saw a church sign that read, “Jesus is the Answer.” I’ve heard this a million times. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the saying. While I understand the intent behind the statement is probably someone trying to share the Gospel, the statement itself seems to fall short. There’s no discussion of how Jesus is the answer or what the question is. I think to many it seems like we are trying to offer Jesus as the solution to any problem without qualifying what we mean.
While driving, however, I was reflecting on what I had heard already at the Slow Church Conference and realized maybe he is the answer, just not in the way that I thought. Thinking about what David Fitch had said the day before, I wondered what the phrase “Jesus is the Answer” might look like through the filter of cultivating presence. Fitch spoke about how central to the practices of our faith is the reality of the presence of Jesus. When we practice Christianity in the world, we are making room for the presence of Jesus to come and dwell among us.
My reflection on this church sign became even more relevant as I listened to Phil Kenneson speak later that morning. Kenneson spoke on how Slow Church really isn’t the goal, it is the means to achieving a certain way of living. The goal is living in the presence of God and being present to God (and to others). This presence, of course, is cultivated through the “Slow” Church practices and not through speed and efficiency. As he spoke about this, he affirmed what I had been wondering all through the morning. He spoke on how God wants to give us his presence and that one of the most powerful things that we can offer to someone is our own presence.
Yes, Jesus is the answer, but it doesn’t come through simply telling someone about Jesus or believing that Jesus is the answer. Instead, it comes through presence. Slow Church helps us to cultivate a place in our church and communities where Christ is present. It also helps us cultivate his presence in our own life as well. The greatest thing that we have to offer to another person is our presence and the presence of Christ in us. It’s not a quick solution to any problem, but if Jesus is going to bring restoration and reconciliation to a person he needs to have a presence in that persons life. The church, if it wants to offer up Jesus as the answer, needs to look to the slow, intentional, and deliberate practices that cultivate the presence of Christ in our lives so that bring that presence to wherever we live.
Peter Stevens is Pastor of Adult Connections and Missional Life at Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, Illinois.