Good is Present Tense

Lazarus is dead. His sisters are distraught. Mary, who once sat at the feet of Jesus, doesn’t even go out to greet Him. Martha does. Martha, who often gets a bad rap for her temper tantrum over kitchen duties, knows who to go to when life has literally ended.

I could go more deeply into this story, because there is SO MUCH GOOD to be had from the history of Mary and Martha, the emotional reaction of Jesus, etc… But what I really want to get to today is something Martha says.

When Jesus tells her He is “the resurrection and the life,” He asks if she believes what He is saying. Martha’s reply jumped off the page today. I was reading with the Charleston shooting on my mind, having learned yesterday that the shooter’s home address was within a few miles of my childhood address, where my mom still lives.

This is what Martha says to Jesus:

“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

I can be a bit of a grammar nerd. Also, as a novelist, I spend a lot of time debating tenses. I mostly write my stories in present tense. I like the feeling it evokes. In past tense, the author is telling a story that has already happened. In present tense, the reader is experiencing the story as it happens. Anytime you pick up the book, the tale is unfolding.

Present tense is infinite action.

What Martha says to Jesus isn’t, “You are the Christ who CAME into the world.” She also doesn’t say, “You are the Christ who HAS COME into the world.”

Both would have been technically appropriate. After all, Jesus was around 33-years-old at the time of Lazarus’ death. I am 33-years-old right now, and I have definitely already came into the world. I did that in January of 1982.

But Martha doesn’t say that to Jesus. Instead, she says, “You are the Christ who IS COMING into the world.”

Present tense.

Jesus didn’t come. He is coming. Always and everywhere, He is coming into the world.

How so?

Through you. Through me. Through the Church when the Church is functioning as the Body should function. Through every act of love and kindness, Jesus is coming into the world.

What happened in Charleston is one of those events that shakes the soul. It begs the age-old question, “If God is good, why do bad things happen?” It makes us ask, “Jesus, where the heck are you?”

The answer is “right here.” Jesus is coming into this world, little by little, and often unnoticed. Evil makes headlines, while good fades into obscurity. A friend’s church recently put on a wedding for a homeless couple. Another friend gave my son a month of free piano lessons. This month, homes and schoolrooms will be built in Honduras and given to families and children in need. Compassion International has connected me to kids all over the world, and I get to share life with them.

Tell me, friends… tell me something good. Because I need to hear it. You need to hear it.

Jesus is coming into the world. Little by little. Day by day.

Where do you see Him?

*originally published on Middle Places
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