follow with me

As I think about the image of service I hold in contrast to "benefactor," it's something like a peer relationship. On the same level as the one I want to help. A brotherly relationship rather than a parental one. "...for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren ...for you have one Father, who is in heaven ...for you have one master, the Christ." (Mt 23.8-10)

And that seems to fit well with the important themes I wrote of before, about not enfeebling the one I help, about encouraging them to step forward in faith themselves, about Jesus' invitation to "follow me." I'd like to help by saying, "Come follow Jesus with me."

To have such a peer relationship and encourage following in faith, it seems necessary to remove those things that separate people into "classes." These are primarily issues of money and power. And while it is not possible to make everyone rich and powerful, it is possible to lower myself to be poor and powerless, and so become a peer with the weak and lowly. To be poor with the poor, weak with the weak, scorned with the scorned, as Jesus was. And this also happens to be the best way to demonstrate faith, the utter dependence on God that I also want to encourage in others.

More concretely, I see a life among peers as a life of sharing. Sharing the same house, the same food, the same source of clothes, etc. And, perhaps more importantly, sharing my life, my thoughts, my struggles (which is not easy for me, as introverted as I am). Often the person asking for help is expected to bare their soul, their needs, their anguish. Their story is heard and analyzed and discussed by others. But they don't get to hear the stories and needs of their "benefactors." And so they get little chance to respond with love or even see their helpers as real human beings. I need to work harder at being more transparent, sharing more of myself. I've already seen the effect it can have on people, how they can respond in a way that demonstrates real growth, because they were motivated by compassion for the one struggling to help them. Such love is God's presence, which work miracles in people. And that's how we take steps following Jesus. But if I want to encourage people to follow Jesus with me, I have to share more and more completely my own experience of following Jesus.