This originally appeared on my blog at: matthewlasnyder.com
One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the “withness” of Christ and how we all need to be better at being present for one another.
What I mean by that is that Christ is with us everywhere we are (Matt. 28:20), and similarly, I think we would benefit from recognizing what withness looks like in our own lives.
WITHNESS IN MARRIAGE
I remember after Merridith and I first got married, she would often come home, sit down on the couch, and then she would start telling me about her day (because I asked, gentlemen). She would relay the good things but she would also tell me about the bad things, the things people did and said, or stuff she was struggling with. And after listening I would give her my advice on how to solve her problems.
But it was maybe a few months into it before she finally said, “Matt, I don’t want you to fix my problems! I just need you to sit there and listen.”
A few years later when I was in seminary, I took a class on pastoral care. I remember Dr. Walker-Barnes saying that one of the central tenets of pastoral care is the “ministry of presence.” It’s simply about being present for one another. It’s about being there.
WITHNESS IN LIFE
There’s a passage in the Bible that says there’s a time for everything. There’s a time for laughing, a time for weeping, a time for silence, a time for speaking, etc. I think that buried in it is this idea that sometimes things are going to happen in life that are beyond our control, and while we may never like them, we can choose to endure them.
It’s just that endurance is always easier with someone sitting beside you.
I think that’s part of the idea of what the withness of Christ looks like; it looks like us being present for one another.
It looks like us sitting on the couch with our partner at the end of the day listening to them share.
It looks like us sitting in the waiting room with our friend while their father is in surgery.
It looks like us celebrating when our coworker gets that anticipated promotion at work.
It looks like us walking two miles instead of one simply for the sake of being with someone.
The withness of Christ is more than just a comforting thought; it is a tangible presence. It’s my prayer that as a Christ community, we can be that for those around us.