At one of our studies this week we can a couple of newcomers and I made a round of introductions so everyone would know and be known, around the table. Introducing people is a relatively easy social function. When someone encounters, for the first time, someone we know, we simply introduce them to one another. Sometimes we get to introduce someone anew. “Did you know that, Rus worked in the Arctic or Peter is a photographer or Trevor is a long-haul trucker?” After folks acknowledge that they were unaware of these facts whole new conversations grow and relationships deepen.
A great joy in my vocation as an evangelist is that I get to introduce people to Jesus, and I get to introduce them anew!
The post-resurrection biblical encounters with Jesus illustrate this opportunity for me. Mary in the garden, of course, knows Jesus, but her knowledge is limited. When Jesus calls her name and re-introduces himself, she has a fuller knowledge of him. Likewise, the two sojourners on the Emmaus Road knew Jesus. They were despondent because of what they knew of him but as Jesus introduced himself in the breaking of bread, they came to more fully know him. Peter and Thomas and the other disciples knew Jesus but came to know him more fully. Saul certainly thought he knew about Jesus until he was introduced to him on the Damascus Road.
Years ago, Phillip Yancey wrote “The Jesus You Never Knew” in an effort to give us a fuller knowledge of Jesus. The Jesus I know, and love today is considerably different from the Jesus I first came to know. Make no mistake Jesus is unchanging “He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow”, yet my grasp of him grows.
Each new day provides me the chance to meet Jesus afresh. The thing that prevents me is an unwillingness to consider that I do not know it all, or know Jesus completely. I need not, and in fact have not, abandoned my initial understanding of him but I continue to learn of him. This draws me ever deeper in love.
It was this idea of always being on the verge of an encounter with Jesus, this idea of a constant re-introduction, that attracted me to the word threshold. The word liminal which describes this ‘in between’ time when we are on the cusp of a new experience, is best expressed in English as threshold. It is a kind of perpetual introduction. Threshold is the place of encounter and change. It is the place where all evangelism takes place. It describes the space (the only space) where we encounter the Godhead.
Threshold is an exciting place to be. Paul talks about this as “going on from glory to glory.” There is nothing dull about this! I long for Jesus to re-introduce himself to me today, and I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce him to others, for the first time or anew!