And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.
Here we have it. The final words of Jesus in the Book of Matthew. Fini!
This, along with the Great Commandment, is one of my favorite scriptures. If it’s anything I don’t like, it’s being alone. I lived alone for about five years and it was difficult for me. So to me, it’s always comforting to hear that I’m not alone.
Of course none of us is ever really alone. All of us have people who care about us at some level, especially if we make a little effort to connect with others. We live in neighborhoods and cities and states and nations. We have families and friends and acquaintances. We connect with people at church and work and school. We are connected to all of the people who serve us and those we serve as we go about our daily lives. We connect with others through social media and television and radio and literature. We are surrounded by people each and every day. There are 7 billion of us at this time. Being alone is a state of mind, not a reality.
We also have relationships that transcend time and space. We are part of the great company of people who have gone before us, all of the men and women and children who have ever existed. We are not alone. We are one of many.
And then we have spiritual relationships that are based on our common origin. We are connected to God our creator, to the plants, to the animals, to the earth itself. We are part of the universe in which we live. As Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star-stuff….. We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness.”
We are alone only in our uniqueness as individuals. Our task as the church should be to facilitate reconciliation that celebrates uniqueness instead of trying to impose uniformity. Our task as the church should be to establish relationship at the godly level, honoring each individual, encouraging each other to find their unique path to the heart of God, reporting to each other what we see along life’s path. Actually, we are uniformly unique, united by our uniqueness. The church should be teaching us how to connect with everyone, including those with whom we profoundly disagree. We need to honor our differences and celebrate our intrinsic oneness. Jaeda DeWalt says it well: “Each of us is a unique thread, woven into the beautiful fabric of our collective consciousness.” We are never alone. We are a unique part of the whole.
I believe in life after death. I think we carry inside us an energy that persists. If that is the case, then the energy of everyone who ever lives continues to exist. I believe this is consistent with the science’s Law of Conservation of Energy which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. I don’t know how it all works, but I believe I saw my father after his death. I don’t think you could talk me out of that, because I had the experience and it would be silly to deny it.
So, in my way of thinking, Jesus will of course be with us always, along with all of the rest of humanity that ever existed. Jesus has kept this promise. Even after the initial resurrection, even after his ascent into heaven, Jesus keeps reappearing. He reappeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. There are all kinds of legends about Jesus reappearing in India. He reappeared to Joseph Smith in the United States. He reappeared to a friend of ours in his hospital room. He keeps turning up. He apparently gets around.
Some may sense the presence of Jesus in the ancient practice of worship where he has been celebrated for thousands of years by our ancestors in the faith; others may meet with him in the practice of acts of kindness; others may meet with him in the pursuit of social justice; others find him on a mountaintop or when they gaze into a starry night’s sky; still others find him in fellowship, or music, or prayer, or dance, or gardening, or sailing, or art, or science, or running, or driving, or sitting on the seashore, or holding a baby, or a million other activities.
I have never seen Jesus myself, but I believe that I might someday. I think God is present to all of us all the time. And I suppose the same is true of Jesus. The logical mind has a hard time understanding how any being, even a spirit being, could “be with” or “be present” to all of us at the same time. I mean, there are getting to be quite a few of us down here on planet earth, let alone all of the other beings that probably inhabit all of the other planets in the universe. But I think it’s possible because I ran across “Miracle Eyes Jesus” at a kitschy little store in Saugatuck, Michigan. I had to have it. It’s a little plastic statue, and no matter where you are standing it appears to be looking directly at you. Two people can stand on opposite sides of the statue, and both people observe that the statue is looking directly at them simultaneously. It’s either very comforting, or very disturbing, depending on how you feel about Jesus. Here are pictures of the statue taken from different camera angles.
So, the question is, if a crummy little plastic statue made in China can look at you no matter where you are standing, why can’t God? Why can’t Jesus? If it can “look” at two people at the same time, why can’t God? Why can’t Jesus?
And so, there you have it. “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” How cool is that?
What does this scripture say to you?