Just a hint of Jesus...

Lately, there seem to be a lot of people wanting to make an impact on this world for Jesus. Leadership gurus are wanting to impact the church.  Student leaders, who evidently live 24/7, are mobilizing to impact the next generation.  I've even heard certain artists who are writing or singing or something to impact the culture.  

Now I'm a word guy; in other words, I believe words mean things.  So I looked up this six-letter arrangement to clarify the definition:to collide forcibly with; to strike.  I then checked some related words: concussion, hammering, onslaught, ramming, sideswipe, tremor, wallop, and who could resist whomp. Now, in the interest of fairness, there are related words that ring all nice and smart like etch or imprint, but great horny toads - they don't stand much of a chance next to mauling.

Go ahead.  Take some of those related words and put them in the place of "impact" - 
Leadership gurus really want to ram the church...Student leaders are mobilizing to maul the next generation...you see where this is going.

I don't believe Jesus wants us to do this.  I really don't.

Do you know the words trace or whiff or hint or brush?  For example - "Jimmy slumped in right field, one cleat on top of the other, close to the fence.  Not a single ball came his direction all evening. But the fence was lined with honeysuckle, the whiff of which reminded him of the girl who now sat in front of him in homeroom.  She had just moved to town from Magnolia and smiled at Jimmy in the hallway.  Jimmy liked playing right field."  

Now, I'm gonna bet my boots you've got a story or two or three where the slightest trace or hint of someone or something left you undone; could be it haunts your memory even today. Maybe it's coming across the hint of your father's aftershave in a department store.  He ran off five years ago but that hint causes you to break down in Macy's like a baby.  Or possibly it was when the dog brushed against your legs and your wife said "It's a boy." You'll forever associate that beagle's tail with the best day of your life.  Or how about a trace, just a trace of half-n-half that causes ordinary scrambled eggs to be the envy of Cracker Barrel.

I believe that's what Jesus wants us to do.  Leave hints or traces or whiffs of grace and mercy and forgiveness, words that mean something, in the lives of those both near and far.

But John, you say, what about the incident when Jesus wove a rope and got busy turning over the tables of the money changers?  That was quite impactful, wasn't it?  Yeah, I know; it's in there, so it counts.  But I wonder sometimes if after the onslaught, Jesus sighed and chuckled to himself, "I'm not so sure what good that did."  And maybe that chuckle came to mind when Peter drew his sword in the garden and whomped off that fella's ear and Jesus said, "Easy there, Pete" and then he put that ear right back where it came from, just like that...a little hint of miracle before the mob made their impact.


  1. Thank you. That was, is, beautiful and so true.

  2. You are so right! A hint of a memory can leave me undone where an impact can make me raise my hackles. Your words caught the essence wonderfully. Thank you!


  3. John:

    Your words are a baseball bat to the back of my skull, but in a positive, life-altering way.


  4. John,

    I enjoyed this. I spent a few years doing Xtreme youth ministry in groups with names like Student Impact.

    I am not proud of some of the things I taught back then. But then, out of the blue, I'll get an e-mail from one of my youth group kids - all grown up now - thanking me for the time I took them to Village Inn for dessert late one night after a fight with their parents, a break-up, or rough times at school. They don't even remember the pontificating. It was the relationship that lingers.

    Thanks again.

    John P.

  5. Jordan,

    Great to see you and Dan in Denver!!

  6. Kim,

    Thanks for taking the time to read and then taking the time to comment. It is not a slight thing.


  7. Melinda,

    Yes, it's hard to reach the heart when the hackles are raised.


  8. John,

    I've done my sharing of impacting; this post was an example of the blot calling the pettle kack.

    Thanks for taking those kids to Village Inn and lingering with the awhile...an email like that helps us remember "not in vain"...


  9. I grew up in a church where we were taught to be radical Christians, to show that Christians aren't wimps. But, it was always the pictures of Jesus nuzzling a lamb that stirred me the most -- not the ones where He was turning over tables or sacrificing Himself on the cross. Those things were necessary and there is a time and a place for them, just as their is a time and place for us to be Jesus' hands and stand up for those who don't have a voice, but it is those quiet moments, those hints of Jesus that make me look inward.

  10. John,

    Thanks for putting words to a feeling I've had difficulty articulating. I abandoned the Christian Self-Help Guru career path because the "impacting" felt forced and unidirectional instead of natural and relational. Leaving hints is so much better. Now instead of mauling people, I just fart and run out of the room. So to speak.


  11. This article is ironically more than a hint of truth. I felt like i was walloped. Thanks I needed that.