That was the message delivered by the Rev. Pam Driesell at the closing worship service of the third annual Big Tent gathering at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky., on Aug. 3.
Driesell, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Ga., spoke from Luke 10:1-12, a passage that shows Jesus giving instruction to the 72 He sent out to evangelize.
In the passage, Jesus tells His followers to take nothing with them as they travel, instead relying on what they are given by those they meet and speak with in the towns they visit.
She drew a comparison to a trip she recently took to visit her son Ty in Cambodia, where he is working with the Peace Corps.
While there she learned a phrase spoken in the Kumai language that translated to English means “same same but different.”
Something from Luke’s passage stood out to Driesell as she met the family her son was staying with in the Cambodian village. They were chopping vegetables outside the home, plucking chickens and gathering their blood for a meal.
“Eat and drink what is provided,” she recalled. “Why? Why twice? Jesus told them not to take anything with them. They were to be dependent on people putting food before them. So, I ate.”
Driesell noted that people are at their most vulnerable when they are hungry.
“When we are hungry we need someone to feed us; we rely on others,” she said. “We are to be vulnerable, willing to receive and go out into the world as Jesus came into the world – vulnerable.
“God’s first thing is for us to know we have received grace upon grace.”
Driesell said the Luke passage portrays evangelism as going into the world in a state of vulnerability, empty-handed and open to receiving.
“God has us. We don’t have God. God has us,” she said. “Maybe I have a need, maybe I have something to learn, maybe I am dependent on you in some way.
“Our calling is to be vulnerable. Jesus’ mandate suggests that maybe we should come in weakness and humility.”
Driesell told more about her trip to Cambodia. While there, she and her sons (Ty and Walker) trekked through the jungle and up a mountain to visit the seventh-century ruins of a temple. In the oppressive heat, she was vulnerable. Guides brought food; she ate it. She sniffed and smelled – herself and others around her.
Once they reached their destination, they sought a blessing from one of the monks living at the temple. She and her boys went inside the temple, knelt and prayed. She smelled an odor and thought about the scent emanating from herself and her sons.
“Same same but different,” she said.
After receiving the monk’s blessing they started down the mountain. Finally, Walker said, “Those guys know something I don’t. I don’t know it all, I don’t have it all.”
Ty gave them an interpretation of what the monk said. His words were: “You came with good hearts and shared with our good hearts. Go and share your good hearts with other people, and their hearts will be good.”
“Same same but different,” Driesell said with a smile.
Again, she likened the moment to Luke’s passage and the directive Jesus gave His followers.
“Maybe under all our assets and resources we are as needy as everybody else,” she said. “Same same but different. Maybe we need to go into the world and be vulnerable as lambs but come together at this table to receive what is set before us of the very One who came to be vulnerable for us, for all.”