Presence—not religious box-ticking

Sometimes you hear it said that “Kids don’t want your presents; they want your presence.”

It’s a word-play on the fact that presents and presence sound the same but are spelled differently. The statement itself is true, but only partially. I have kids. Many of you have kids. If you told them at their birthday party that you were going to have some family time but no gifts there is going to some disappointment, no matter how noble they are!

Over time, however, a lot of people do in fact start to realize that someone’s presence is more important than gifts.

One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel (see Matthew 1:23). It’s a Hebrew word meaning “God with us.” But one of the things we discover in John 15:4 is this. Not only is Jesus God-with-us, but he wants us to be with him as well! “Abide in me, and I in you.” He wants our presence.

Just as in the previous devotional, I encourage you to be truly present when you engage in your spiritual practices. 

-When you pray do you act as if you are only talking to yourself and waiting for the Amen to tick a mental box?

-When you read the Bible are you checking your phone so often that you keep forgetting which book of the Bible you’re in?

-When you go to church are you watching or are you worshipping?

-When you volunteer are you doing it because someone told you it was nice or because of an awareness that in those moments you are serving Jesus himself?

This isn’t to make you feel guilty. It is simply an encouragement to move beyond religious box-ticking, and to be truly present to the God who is truly present to you in Christ.

Peter Claver wrote: “Seek God in all things and we shall find God by our side.”*

We will. And we shall. 


#presence #timewithGod #religion #Godwithus #immanuel #faith #bible #devotional #peterclaver 

–Sermon on John 15:1-17: “Tarrying with a Lord you cannot see.” Click here to watch or listen.

–Bible study podcast on John 15:1-17: “Abiding in Jesus the true vine, and bearing his fruit.” Click here to listen or subscribe to ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ wherever you listen to podcasts.

–*Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, ed. Michael Harter (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1993), 82.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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