Putting Jesus in His Place

February 25, 2020 | Church | John Freedman

Have you heard the story about the young father reading the morning news while his little daughter played on the floor next to him? It made for some nice father-daughter time, but there was one problem: The little girl’s cheerful banter and frequent queries prevented any reading. 

As much as he loved her, the father wanted to finish the article he had started. Glancing around in an attempt to find something that would interest her, he spotted a possible solution. A mission flyer was sticking out of his Bible with a map of the world on one side. 

The father found a pair of scissors and cut up the world map. “Here honey,” he said to his daughter. “Daddy made a puzzle for you to play with. Put this together and see if you make a map.”

With that, the father returned to his tablet, confident he’d have plenty of time to finish the op-ed piece he had been reading. 

In no time at all his daughter piped up and said, “Daddy I’m done!”

Surprised he looked down to find the map fully assembled. “That was fast,” he said.  “How did you put it together so quickly? You don’t know anything about geography.”

His daughter replied, “There’s picture of Jesus on the other side of the map. I knew when I had Jesus in the right place, the whole world would be all right!”

It’s a cute story, but the little girl was right: When Jesus is in the right place, the whole world will be a better place. The only hope for our angry, confused, dark and polarized world is Jesus. The same is true of our personal life, our family life and our church life. 

In Revelation, Chapter 3, John tells a story of the Laodicean church. They’re keeping Jesus outside the door, and He’s knocking to gain entrance. In fact, He is even calling out to those on the other side of the door: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door … ” (Rev. 3:20).

The members inside the house truly believe they are fine. Based on what John writes, one can easily imagine them saying, “We don’t need anything, Jesus. We’re busy and are doing a lot of good work. You should spend your time with those who really need help.” 

In spite of the brushoff, Jesus isn’t rebuffed. He keeps knocking … day after day. Why? Because those on the other side of the door don’t realize their deep need for Jesus.

If we take an honest look at this passage, this story is all about us — God’s people living right before Jesus returns. On our own, we are destitute. Our need for His faith, His righteousness and His Spirit is an issue of life and death.

Jesus belongs on the inside — inside our hearts, our families and our churches. When we give Him His rightful place, we will have success sharing Jesus with our broken communities and world. Spiritual strength and vitality will be seen in our churches. Instead of losing 60–70% of our young adults, we will retain them inside the church and receive others from outside the church. 

In this issue of the Gleaner we feature our North Pacific Union Conference sponsored, local conference and church led Growing Young initiative. This initiative keeps Jesus front and center and seeks to follow His methods of discipleship. We're helping churches find ways to invest in young lives and involve them in the fabric of faith, our church and Christian living. 

I invite you to read the stories. Churches are taking young adult engagement seriously and lives are being changed. Rejoice with us over those who have returned and those who have found faith in Christ for the first time. 

Engaging our youth doesn’t require us to compromise our beliefs. It does require us to put Jesus in the right place. When He is at the center of our lives and our ministry, people of all ages will see Jesus and be drawn to His love shining through us.