“What are you looking for?”
These are the very first words Jesus speaks to his first disciples in the Gospel of John. It is a question he asked two curious seekers — and it is an important question because searching and finding are a big part of Christian Discipleship.
It is also an excellent question for us to ponder. What am I looking for?
Those first disciples answered this question with a question of their own, “Where are you staying?”
Then Jesus issued an invitation to them, “Come and see,” and he took them to where he was staying.
They stayed with him for a whole day, and, as it turned out, for the rest of their lives (vv. 38-39).
Continuing this pattern of searching and finding, Andrew, one of those disciples, went out on another search, and this time he was clear about what he was looking for. He found his brother, Simon, and declared that he had met the Messiah. Andrew then brought Simon to meet Jesus.
Was Simon searching too?
Most likely he was, because inside every person is a “God-shaped” void — an empty place longing to be filled that only God can fill. Most people — in one way or another — are looking for a way to fill that.
What are you looking for? Jesus wanted to know. Did those early disciples have words to describe this “God-shaped void?” Did Simon Peter have the words to describe what he was looking for? I don’t know.
What are you looking for? Do you have the words to describe it? What are the people around you looking for? Do they express it to you?
Regardless of how we found Christ, part of our discipleship is to provide the kind of witness that others may find him, too. Searching and finding as Andrew demonstrates in this story is also our calling.
Andrew searched for his brother, found him, and then took him to meet Jesus. Simon Peter became a disciple of Jesus thanks to Andrew’s witness.
Likewise, Jesus calls us to follow him, to stay with him, to journey with him. His journey is always a journey of searching and finding.
Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd who searches out and finds the lost sheep. We, too, are called to this ministry of searching and finding.
That is our task as Christians in today’s world, and what a joyous, challenging task it is. Having found Christ, or perhaps more correctly, having been found by Christ, we find others so that they, too, may come and see.
A number of years ago when lay leaders from across our denomination added the word “witness” to the membership vow at General Conference, it served as a reminder of that part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus. The vow of membership then became, “Will you be loyal to the church and uphold it by your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness?”
The idea of witnessing to our faith, or sharing our faith, can be intimidating. When I shared that addition with the congregation, some members of the church, half-joking — and half-serious — they asked me, “Wait, am I grandfathered in?”
I’m pretty sure what was behind that question was the experience of having someone “witness” to them in a way that was somewhat obnoxious.
Have you had that unfortunate experience of obnoxious faith-sharing? Or, have you had the experience of someone sharing their faith story in a way that was engaging and attractive? Have you ever shared your own faith with someone else?
This Sunday in Sanctuary worship we’ll be thinking together about how to share our faith with others without being obnoxious about it.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster