Sermon for 1/15/17 John 1:29-42

Some of the blogs and authors I follow have made it a habit of choosing one word or phrase at the beginning of each year that they want to be the focus of their life. It’s not always profound, but it usually seems to be surrounded by much thought and prayer. So, I thought about doing this for myself as 2016 came to an end and I prepared for the new year. I wondered what difference it might make for my own life, spiritual and otherwise. It’s not too late for you if this is something that interests you. I prayed about it, I prayed some more, I did my best to listen to God, and what kept coming to me over and over again was a word and a phrase. The word that kept coming to me was “resistance” and the phrase was “for such a time as this.” Every week as I sit down to plan the days ahead, I write these two things in my planner. I am still praying about what God has planned for me in regards to these words and phrases. Why do this at all?

“What are you looking for?” This is what Jesus asks us and the disciples today .What are you looking for? And it’s so much more than that. The translation is “what are you looking for” but it could also be “what are you seeking?” It could also be “what do you hope to find?” Those are three very different sentences. The disciples then say that they are wondering about where Jesus is staying. And Jesus responds “come and see.” This is where the English translation does us no good in adequately relaying the message that Jesus had for the disciples and us. Because see, the disciples weren’t asking a simple question of “where are you staying.” They aren’t looking for a hotel review. The translation is where are you abiding, dwelling, or remaining. The Greek word here is “meno” which is often translated as abide. This verb, meno, is used over 40 times in John’s Gospel. You might be able to call that a theme! The disciples aren’t interested in a specific answer. It’s not like they expected Jesus to answer “I’m staying at 4022 Old Jerusalem Road.” What the disciples were hoping for, seeking, looking for was relationship. And Jesus responds “come and see.” Jesus thus invites the disciples into relationship. He invites them to abide with him.

Scripture is a living, breathing document, brothers and sisters. What this means is that it is just as relevant for us on January 15, 2017 as it was for the disciples and those who followed Jesus in his time. Instead of thinking of the Bible as an old document, think of it as readings that are still prevalent for our time (because they are). Allow me then, to ask you what Jesus asked the disciples. “What are you looking for?” Maybe this is what we all are supposed to think about for the next year. Just like my words of “resistance” and “for such a time as this” maybe I should add “what are you looking for?” What do you need? What are you seeking? What do you long for? Then it is to us to resist the temptation to answer or to fix. Have you ever noticed how quickly we want to fix people or situations? There’s something about uncertainty that makes us uncomfortable; and so we rush to fix it. For example, if someone said “I feel like what I need is time” we might be quick to jump in and give advice. “Go on vacation!” or “start prioritizing!”

What are you looking for? What do you need? How is God calling you to abide? Do you need silence in a noisy world? Do you need comfort in a time of change? Do you need to abide with others? Are you longing to be in real genuine relationship with others and not just surface relationships? Are you looking to be fed in ways that fill your mind and soul? Maybe you are looking for the opportunity to rest. Jesus is asking you, me, all of us, “what are you looking for” and so how will you answer?

It’s interesting that we are asked this question today of all days. After worship today we will gather for our annual meeting. A lot of what we will talk about today will be money. We’ll talk about the budget, our goals, our hopes, maybe even our dreams. How might our discussion change if we kept in mind the question of “what we are looking for” in a church? What would our budget look like if we said we are looking to be a church that welcomes young families? Or what might it look like if we said we are wanting to be the church that feeds hungry people? We can’t possibly be all things to all people. It’s just not possible. So, what are we looking for? What are you looking for? I want you to take a moment to think about that.

When you’re done thinking about it, hear what Jesus has to say. “Come and see.” This in an invitation with no time limit from Jesus. Come and see, he says. Come and abide with him. There is no catch. There is nothing we have to do to earn our keep. But the thing about Jesus’ invitation is that it will change your life. “Come and see” should both reassure and scare the crap out of you. Because when you answer Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” you are responding to a relational invitation; you are responding to an invitation to be loved. Come and see is about being willing to go and have your life changed by grace. If grace isn’t what you’re looking for then maybe don’t respond. But, who wouldn’t want grace in their lives. For me, it comes back around to resisting the urge to cave to what the world tells me I need and instead rely on what I want: Christ. If you are brave enough to answer the question “what do you want? What are you looking for? What are you seeking?” then be brave and bold enough to follow when Jesus calls “come and see.”

Our life together is relational. We are nothing without one another. Our life together is relational in Christ because we are nothing without him. What makes this place different than a country club is that relationship. The relationship that we have to Christ is life giving and the relationship that we have with one another is living proof of that. My brothers and sisters, I once again ask you “what are you looking for?” and are you willing to “come and see?”

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