Following is a subversive activity

John 1:35-51   January 5, 2014          Following is a Subversive Activity

I’m not much of a shopper.  Stores overwhelm me.  Target virtually wipes my memory as I walk through the door. So lists are important for me if I have to shop for necessities. Otherwise, I arrive home with impulse buys and no milk, which is what got me to leave the house in the first place.  To know what I am looking for when I enter a store is pretty dang important.

What are you looking for is the first thing Jesus says in the Gospel of John.  I think it’s a wonderful introduction to Jesus in this book.  It’s a question that doesn’t have one answer and Jesus doesn’t answer it directly.  He notices that some of John’s disciples have left following John and have now fallen in step behind him which prompts him to turn around and ask, “what are you looking for?”

How would you answer that question?  I think many of us here would say we are followers of Jesus.  But I also think some of us wouldn’t know why we’re in worship today. Perhaps that has never occurred to you.  Maybe you just show up at church and don’t give it much thought any other day.  Just think if Jesus turned to you and asked you, what are you looking for?  What would you say?

Would you shrug your shoulders and tell Jesus you don’t quite understand the question? I mean, after all, you go to worship once or twice a month. Isn’t that answer enough?

Or maybe you’d be ready, saying you were looking for peace: peace in your life peace in your heart, peace for the world.

Or maybe you’d tell Jesus you were looking for answers.  The meaning of life; the reason for suffering; how to get to heaven, how to have eternal life. You know, the big stuff.

Or maybe you’d tell Jesus you’re looking for a place to belong to – a community of people to love and to serve with.

Or maybe you need doctrine – clearly stated beliefs. Or a set of rules.

Maybe you’re looking for Jesus so you can feel good or feel love.

I don’t know, maybe you’d tell Jesus you were looking to belong to an exclusive club of people who loved him.

Or maybe you’d tell Jesus you were looking to belong to a people who would practice forgiveness and acceptance.

What are you looking for? In following Jesus?  In a life of being the church?

What a terrible question.  What a necessary question.  What an important question.

And I think all of the potential things I spun out just there – I think they all fit into what it means to follow Jesus.  And I think the disciples who followed him and took that direct question from Jesus answered his question well.

They said, rabbi (teacher) where are you staying?

Now, at first blush, this seems like a simple question of logistics.  And the next few sentences seem to spell that out.  Jesus says, “come and see” and they came and saw where he was staying and they remained with him that day.

But it’s the notion behind the word staying that is deeper than our English language can communicate.  The implications here are more about a way of living than simply finding a vacant hotel room, a place to hang your hat for the night.  It’s about a way of life, a way to live.

And Jesus simply invites them along for the ride:  “Come and see,” says Jesus. For isn’t that how you live?

Come and see. It’s the beauty of this story.  Most of what happens is through other people’s word of mouth about Jesus.  John pointing to Jesus. Brothers telling brothers.  Inviting others to come and see.  And even Nathanael’s sarcastic, pessimistic question is given air:  can anything good come out of Nazareth? he snarls about Jesus.  And Jesus basically tells him, you aint seen nothin’ yet.

We may not know what we want or expect, but when we meet Jesus – everything changes.  Because when you truly meet Jesus, there is a relationship. And then nothing is the same. The way you see the world changes.  It’s a life of discipleship.  And it aint easy.

Because, if you’re looking for peace, Jesus makes sure you yourself are practicing that same peace with others. And that’s hard.

If you are seeking answers, Jesus will use your quest for answers to stir up more questions; to ask them and to be satisfied not knowing all the details. If you are seeking answers, you will know that God through Jesus Christ is certain. You will learn that questions are hard but they are necessary in a life of following Jesus.

If you’re looking for a place to belong where you can love and serve, then Jesus will be sure that happens in all the most unexpected ways and places. And it will be much harder than you thought it would be.

Any way you answer that question, what are you looking for?  Well, if you ask it of Jesus, then you will be transformed. You will be changed.  The club doors are burst open, the love in community you’ll feel will be challenging and yet so so fulfilling.  The doctrine, the rules of what we believe, will spring to life in new ways.

What is it you’re looking for?  A life with Jesus. Which means a life of being transformed by Jesus so that our lives continue that transformative work in the world.  A life with Jesus means a life serving others, thinking of others, praying for others. Strangers and friends. It takes our feet, but more than that, it takes our hearts and our whole lives.  Jesus says what are you looking for? And then he says, follow me, come and see.