Equipped for a mission-focused
Journey With Jesus

Where is Jesus?

The question by one of our younger members made me realize my answer wasn’t quite adequate.

By Dishon Mills, Pastor Charlotte, NC

There is a brilliant 8-year-old boy in my congregation who is a prolific question-asker.  Let us call him Danny. Danny wants to know about EVERYTHING! He is not my child, so I find his questions charming, and he and I get along very well. Danny’s parents, on the other hand, may not be as fond of his questions, yet they shower Danny and their other children with love and support. He is conscious of his affinity for interrogatives, and sometimes asks questions just to get under the skin of taller people. During Holy Week, my congregation conducted a Christian Seder, and I was blessed to sit close to Danny. One feature of our Christian Seder is an empty place setting for Jesus, which has great symbolic meaning. At one point, he turned to me and asked, “Where is Jesus?” Danny and I were having fun with each other throughout the evening, so I was not sure if he was joking or not. He seemed serious so I did my best to answer his question. I talked about Jesus always being with us and at work in the world around us.


As I spoke, I realized the inadequacy of my answer. Danny understood my words; however, I may as well have been talking about my imaginary friend. By the way, I don’t have an imaginary friend … anymore. My answer did not make Jesus any more real to Danny. The question he asked was really deep, and the answer cannot be explained. It must be experienced. In order to help Danny understand where Jesus is, we must find where Jesus is at work in our community and try to participate.

While speaking a parable to his disciples, Jesus said:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-40

Perhaps Jesus can be found among the hungry, thirsty, strangers, and imprisoned. By equipping our young people to care for people in need, we make the words we say about Jesus actually come alive. We must guard against saviorism — the condescending belief that those in a more privileged position can “save” those less fortunate. This can be accomplished by adopting the posture of doing good works with people not for them. When serving others, we should want to seek God for solutions with them instead of trying to do things to them.

The best way to show our young people where Jesus is at work is to guide them in serving others. This service should start with a process of relationship-building with those to be served that leads into a joint discernment process to see what God would have them do. Without opportunities to actually put their faith into practice, much of what we teach our young people will just be words. Young people are usually capable of more than adults give them credit. Perhaps the start of a robust Love Avenue could be efforts by your youngest members. Let us do our best to let our young people know where Jesus can be found for their sake and the sake of our faith community.

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