This post originally appeared on the Hope Rising: A Lenten Devotional.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” –Matthew 9:35 (NIV)

When we identify the first church in the New Testament we tend to look to the early church in the Book of Acts. Recently, I was introduced to the idea that those who followed Jesus as he roamed throughout the Mediterranean countryside were actually the first church.

The implications of Jesus’ roaming church are profound. What if the church is not meant to be stationary, but rather a group of people roaming throughout our communities, following Jesus where he leads?

The Church of Scotland recently defined the core calling of the church as the, “people with Jesus at the center, traveling wherever Jesus takes us.” Being willing to roam allows us to be where Jesus is.

When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus is with the hurting, the diseased, and the oppressed. If we are looking for Jesus, we know where to find him. Yet, to find him we will have to leave our comfort zone, embarking on a journey into the unknown.

The church I belong to has followed Jesus into our local county jail, where we’ve witnessed the healing power of Christ transform a place of brokenness and despair into a place of radical welcome and loving community. In one pod of the jail, the inmates participate in daily Bible Study, share meals together, and fervently pray for one another. We’ve witnessed a beautiful expression of church take shape.

It’s difficult to find Jesus when we wait for him to come to us in our steeples; it’s easier to find him when we roam the streets.

In this Lenten season, may we be willing to roam with Jesus throughout the countryside of our communities, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and healing every disease and sickness.

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