The familiar ping of the Uber app interrupted the rhythm of my morning. Often when I am close to finishing a task at the church I will turn on my app and leave the church when I get a call. Today as I readied to leave the office Uber notified me that someone nearby needed a ride. I rushed to my car and looked at my phone to ascertain my destination and learn the name of my rider. I did a double take when saw the message at the bottom of my screen- "Picking Up Jesus" It took a second to register that this was a common Hispanic name. I was struck by the irony so much that I took a screen shot of my phone.
Jesus happened to be less than a mile from my church. I picked him up and had the most pleasant conversation with him. He told me it was his first ever Uber ride I told him it was the first time I had picked up Jesus. And not only was his name Jesus; he was also a carpenter! Our conversation moved from carpentry to Holy Week and our mutual love for the other Jesus. At the end of the ride, I got Jesus' business card because I may need him to do some construction work for me.
As I reflected on the ride I was reminded that I'm always "picking up Jesus" Sometimes we get so focused on what's wrong with the world and the people in it, that we forget that the Bible teaches that we are all stamped with the image of God. Theologians call that bad or the sin within us "depravity". And while its true that we all have that we all have sins that separate us from God, beneath the depravity in all of us there is a spark of Jesus. I am intrigued by the thought that every time I drive my Uber I am giving rides to people with that God image inside of them. I am "picking up Jesus"!
I'm also fascinated by the thought that ride sharing works on algorithm sent out from an anonymous computer program. Technically it's total chance which riders I pick up. But I frequently leave a ride shaking my head thinking that this ride was more than a coincidence. I have come to call these "chance" encounters "algorithms of grace".
Every day as the algorithms direct me to new people I have an opportunity to serve, learn from, listen to, and yes even love my riders. On Maundy Thursday, the night that Jesus gave us a new command to love one another, I picked up Jesus. Thank you Jesus.
Life Church Knoxville
We're an inter denominational church in Knoxville, Tennessee that believes that all people matter and should experience the love and power that comes along with a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ.