And what a journey it's turning out to be, huh? As we're hanging out with Jesus, all KINDS of things are coming up, things Jesus knows we need and is ready to talk to us about. So, shall we continue?
We have a few more days in Galilee, and today we're gathered in a local cafe. When we all have our drinks, Jesus leans back in his chair and says, "How are you all getting along with the people in your life?"
We're all like, "Uh, okay ... I guess?"
Jesus gives us that "Really?" look, and we think back to the comments we've made since Friday. Oh, yeah. Some of us have friendships that have gone sour or need repair. Others aren't getting along so well with our parents because we're trying to grow up and it's so HARD!
Jesus takes a long sip from his coffee and surveys us through the steam coming out of his mug. "I can show you how to deal with that. Would you like to hear?"
One of us (you?) says, "Ya think?"
We all agree that would make our lives way easier. Just tell us what to do, we say as we wriggle to the edges of our seats. And we'll do it.
Jesus smiles and folds his hands around his mug. "If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell her. Work it out between the two of you."
We wait for more, but Jesus just takes another sip. That's it?
One of us (you?) says, "But I'm afraid to. What if I sound stupid? What if she doesn't get it and she gets mad at me?"
Jesus nods. "That could happen. If it doesn't, if you're able to work things out, you have a real friendship. If it does -- if she won't listen, I have a next step for you. But first let me ask you this: what can you do except go to your friend or your mother or your sister and talk about it?"
One of us says, "Talk to my other friends about it."
"And how's that working out for you?" Jesus says.
Um, it's not, we think.
Someone else says, "I pray and hope God will fix it."
"Ah," Jesus says. He dips a piece of biscotti in his coffee. "Prayer should always be first, but I'm telling you how to work WITH God to 'fix it.'"
Okay, we say, so what's the next step if she doesn't listen? Because, of course, we're convinced she won't.
"Take one or two other people along -- kind of as witnesses -- " Jesus says, "and try again."
He chews thoughtfully while we all look each other. Finally, one of us says, "I'm sorry, Lord, but if somebody did that to me, I'd feel like everybody was ganging up on me."
Jesus shakes his head. "What if they came to you in love and kindness? What if they said, 'We hate that you two are fighting and we want to help. We all NEED each other.' How would that be?"
"That would be great," we all agree. But someone says, "Who does that, though? Who's that nice about it?"
Jesus grows very serious. "If you're going to be my followers, Mini-Women, then YOU do that. YOU be that nice. YOU go to the person you have a problem with instead of talking to everybody BUT her ABOUT her. YOU love others the way I love you, and the way you want to be loved."
There's a lot of painful swallowing and looking down at feet, but it isn't Jesus who's "making us feel bad." We just realize that he's right.
"Why the long faces, my loves?" Jesus says. "This is good news! I'm telling you exactly how to live a life with God. Don't make it complicated. Just trust me. You do, don't you?"
We gotta say, we really do. He's making more sense to us than anybody else ever has. And there's more. He says:
"If your friend has done something really hurtful -- like bullying or cheating -- and she won't listen to you or to a small group of you, then go to your pastor or your youth leader. That isn't tattling. That's trying your hardest to get your friend OUT of trouble, not in."
We're squirming again but Jesus looks at us firmly. "As long as you do this with love and forgiveness, praying all the while together, you don't need to worry. Few people can resist the power of real love."
Then Jesus stands up and says, "Anyone need anything else to drink?"
We order -- what will you have? --and while Jesus goes off to get our beverages, we think. And we comment among ourselves -- Will this be hard for you? Do you think think your friend or your mom will listen? What part of your attitude do you need to pray about before you go to her? What friends would you take with you if she doesn't listen the first time? Are you still afraid? DO you really believe Jesus will be there?
Some pull out their Takling To God Journals. Everyone comments. And suddenly we realize we're doing exactly what Jesus is teaching us to do. We are gaathering together in his name.
And that is so good.