Early in my Christian reading I realized that though he never wasted a minute Jesus did not hurry anywhere. I noticed that he stopped lots of times to visit with, help, heal and teach friends as well as strangers. He valued everyone.
Jesus’ life had power because he lived the way he did. He lived for others. Christians believe that Jesus had come on the holiest of missions, to be the savior of the world. But he never let this mission overshadow his earthly ministry.
His ministry was a wayside ministry, a life giving, along-the-way ministry. What he did as he went about was of utmost importance. He was not one, as we say today, with places to go, things to do, people to see, worlds to win. He was one with life to give. And he gave it.
Early in my Christian life I realized that anyone could be like Jesus. I also observed in myself as in others a great unwillingness to live like Jesus lived. Thankfully a few saints in my life took time to remind me of this terrible tendency. I say thankfully now, but I never liked those reminders at the time, not a single one.
One incident is especially vivid to this day. It happened in Mars more than 30 years ago. The congregation was debating whether to address me by my given name or as Reverend or Pastor. Tom, a down-to-earth, retired oilfield worker took me aside one day. He said that he preferred to address me as Parson. I was flattered, but only ever so briefly. For Tom continued. He would do so to remind me that I needed to be a person first.
Tom understood. Calling me Parson was Tom’s way of leading me out of the comfort of my office and into the turmoil of people’s lives. Tom gave me my ministry that day. He showed me the Master’s Way.