How Jesus found their turf
Jesus was flocked by people who wanted to see and experience His miracles. Yes, He came to heal the sick, blind, mute, and deaf. He also came to meet people as significant people. He saw them all. Yet, He kept seeking those who were lost. He found them on their turf.
Turf is the top layer of a grassy area consisting of a kind of mat of grass and its roots. A close synonym is sod.1 It is also the area that a group considers its own.2 Whether you’re a member of a family, a club, or a gang, your turf is the place you belong. Jesus recognized that people have their own turf, and He met many of them there.
Jesus never invited folks to come worship with Him at the synagogue. He didn’t say, “I’m going to be reading the scripture in the temple on the Sabbath. Care to come and hear Me?”
Instead, He meandered to the place where people were who needed Him. He went to their turf.
Jesus stopped at the base of the sycamore tree Zacchaeus climbed in order to see Jesus. “Come down,” He said. “I want to come to your house.”
Jesus met Zacchaeus on his home turf. That’s when the short tax collector felt convicted of his life style.
On another day, Jesus and the disciples were heading to Galilea from Judea. Scripture said He “must needs go through Samaria.” Normally, Jews bypassed Samaria, but Jesus took the direct route because He was heading for someone’s turf.
When you understand that Jews did not like to travel in Samaria, you wonder why this was so important. Jesus had someone to meet at a well. He simply asked the woman for a drink of water and led the conversation to the Living Water who was sitting there with her. Jesus did not summon the woman to come to Him. Jesus met her on her turf in the heat of the day when others stayed away because of her reputation.
My search for turf
It’s all well and good to invite folks to Bible school, to church, or to church activities. How much better it is to meet them on their turf or to invite them to your turf. Folks who run rescue squads don’t sit at their stations waiting for the injured or sick to come to them. When the call comes in, they head to their patient’s turf. They don’t wait for the patients to realize they need help and come to them. That is where they meet their needs.
I mopped the kitchen floor of a friend one day as she lay in her bedroom with pneumonia. This visit was not on my schedule that day, but when she called, I went. I didn’t go because I felt like it or because I really wanted to be there. I went because there was a need and I had promised Jesus I was willing to go when there was a need.
As the water dripped out of the mop into the bucket for another whirl on the floor, I felt the whisper of Jesus. He said, “You asked me how to show My love to others. This is how. This is how you show My love. Don’t invite her to church. Just go to her turf and be the church to her. Love her by mopping her floor.”
I felt the tears coming and couldn’t stop them. So I let them fall, sliding down my cheeks, then into the murky water in the bucket and onto the floor. The floor that was now hallowed ground.
Yes to the turf
There have been other times I felt His Presence as I met on the turf of others, but none so profound as this. Perhaps it is because my specific prayers had been for wisdom on being the church. My burden for the soul of my friend had me asking for wisdom in how to relate and how to show her His love.
The phone call that morning asking for help took me to her turf. There are some turfs more comfortable to visit than others. This was not the comfort I liked, but I went. I felt honored that she chose to call me, and even though my day had its plans, I changed them to honor this request from Jesus. Only, I didn’t realize I was changing my plans so I would hear from God. Jesus went to the Samaritan well. I went to a dilapidated doublewide pushed against the trees behind deep puddles and potholes in the drive.
On days I don’t feel like doing what is needed or necessary, on nights when I’m weary of giving, I remember the Presence of a holy God Who met me on that kitchen floor. He met me in the dismal darkness of curtained windows and shone light on the hallowed turf. I kicked off my crocks, for I felt that I was standing on holy ground. That day, I said “Yes” to meeting on the turf.
I’m learning about different turfs – and not as quickly as I could or should. It’s something that, as believers, we must do. Go to the masses and the crowds and meet them on their turf. You’ll see a different person and a different side than you understood when you met on their turf. Jesus did that, and we must follow His example.
Forget about keeping your image and looking untainted. Do what Jesus did. He came to help, not those who are whole, but those who need a physician. He met them on their turf. Whether they were wealthy or hiding in the slums, He came to them. It is not those who are whole who need you. It is those who are sick. Jesus came to bring restoration. We must do the same.