Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Jesus and the toothbrush

So you get the opportunity to ask Jesus a question, face to face. What’s it going to be? How can you be loving and allow so much suffering? Where were you between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and what was going on? What were you thinking when you came up with the duck-billed platypus?

I’d want to ask Him to show me where He keeps His toothbrush.

This may not sound like the most pressing question from someone who has for a long time made a living by asking sometimes awkward questions of people in positions of authority, so let me explain.

The scenario came up recently in our church home group, which is discussing a series of questions Jesus asks in the New Testament. The first is posed in John 1, when Andrew and another disciple of John the Baptist are following the new preacher in town, this Jesus fellow. He spots them and asks them what they want.

Their response: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”

The speaker on the DVD message we’re reviewing chuckled at the lameness. Here they are with a free request of the eternal Supreme Being, through whom everything that is came about, and they are asking Him about His accommodation. Funny stuff.

But then we had to offer our own responses to Jesus’ invitation, and after thinking about it, I decided that, actually, I would ask my version of the same thing. What I call the toothbrush touch point.

See, whenever I am traveling in airports, I always wonder about people’s toothbrushes. This is not based on oral concern. Everyone’s going somewhere, hustling and bustling. I wonder where they are headed, and why. Who or what is waiting for them at the other end? Is this trip a joy or a duty, a trial or a triumph?

And, when they are at home, where do they put their toothbrush before they go to bed at night? Whether they are diplomats on a mission, businessmen and women on a contract, students on a vacation, military personnel on a deployment, or journalists on a deadline, they each have somewhere that they typically set their toothbrush after brushing before bed.

To me that moment is a picture of the interior, the intimacy of their lives. In other words, one of the many small, private moments that make up so much more of who they are than the glimpse I get of them as they pass me in the terminal. It tells me a bit more of who they are rather than just what they do, or even what they know.

So I would have wanted to ask Jesus where He kept his toothbrush. And I think He might have shown me, just as He invited the two disciples who wanted to know where He was staying: “Come and you will see.”

Because He would have understood that my real request was to know Him personally, to be welcomed into His intimate space, rather than just being impressed by what I could find out about Him, or what He could tell me. That I was really wanting to get into His heart, rather than into His head—just as He wishes the same with me.

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