For the past few summers our church has handed out laminated paper cut-outs of “Flat Jesus” and encouraged people to take one wherever they went. It was a simple, tangible way for us to remember that God was with us on vacation, at the beach, on a mission trip, at the zoo, or anywhere!
Church members were asked to take a photo with “Flat Jesus” and email it to the church or post it on our Facebook page, and we saw the many places people went during the summer — taking Jesus with them!
I carried my Jesus cut-out in my purse, and it was a visible reminder that no matter where I went, Jesus was there, too. Of course, God would have been in all those places with or without my paper Jesus, but I seemed to be more aware of God’s presence when I had that little image in my hand.
There were lots of photos submitted, many from very exotic locations. It was fun to see all the pictures, and it was really neat that church members were remembering to take those pics and send them in. We had photos of all ages and from many countries and U.S. states. “Flat Jesus” really got around!
But after awhile I started to feel a little unsettled. It seemed that “Flat Jesus” was becoming more about us and less about Jesus. It had begun to feel like a way to boast about our exciting adventures. I wondered if all those who submitted photos were really experiencing God with them or if it was developing into a selfie contest. I still think it’s a great reminder and it can be a useful ministry tool, but it’s time that we go deeper and let the awareness of being in the presence of God be the focus.
That’s why this summer we are trying something new. Look for God.
Wherever you go, whether it is a faraway destination or your own backyard, a family reunion or a restaurant, God is already there. It is my hope that we open our eyes and recognize God.
- Do you see God in the kindness of a friend?
- Can you experience God in the love of father and child on a fishing trip?
- Do you feel God’s peace while sitting near a campfire on a starry night?
- Can you see God in the majesty of the ocean?
- If you look closely, can you see God in the face of someone with whom you disagree?
This summer we’re asking everyone to really look for God. Then they can take a picture of where they saw God or where they noticed the attributes of God, complete the sentence “I saw God …” and email their photo and sentence to our church.
Maybe this will be hard. Maybe it won’t be as much fun. But maybe it will stretch us and help us grow in grace, developing into more spiritually mature disciples. Maybe, while looking, we will find God.
I’m excited to see the many ways God is revealed as we tune in and pay attention.
The Lord proclaims: “When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.”Jeremiah 29: 13 Common English Bible (CEB)