The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed ). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter ).
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our strength & our redeemer (Psalm 19:14)
How would your life be different if you were not a Christian? For some of us who have lived surrounded by Christian people, it’s hard to imagine, but what if you had no interest in God? How would your life be less or more or just the same?
What would you miss about church? I would never have sung out loud in public were it not for church on Sunday. Which of your friends would not be your friends? If you had never met the people you have met in Sunday school, how great a loss would that be? How would your family change? How would you spend your time differently? Would you be home reading the New York Times on Sunday mornings? What do you do because you are a Christian that makes you happy? Which religious activities could you do without? What would be easier if you weren’t a Christian? Do you feel good about the time you spend helping strangers? Do you wish you still had all the money you’ve given away? Have there been experiences you would hate to have missed—hope-filled books you are glad you read, experiences of God’s grace in worship, times you’ve cared for hurting people? If you were not a Christian, would your life be less interesting?
Every once in a while the disciples thought about how different their lives would have been if they had never met Jesus. It started so quietly. John the Baptist is standing with two of his students when Jesus walks by. John says, “That’s the one. You know how I can be, but I’m not worthy to tie his sandals.”
The two disciples are understandably curious. They start following Jesus. He turns and asks, “What are you looking for?” They answer nervously, “We thought we would see where you’re staying.” In other words, “We don’t have anything better to do, so we’re wondering what you’re doing.” Jesus offers the invitation that will change their lives: “Come and see.”
They stay with Jesus all day because he’s interesting. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into. They don’t know that they will end up leaving behind their nets, boats, homes, friends, work, and retirements. They will end up changing their ideas about almost everything.
Andrew goes to get his brother. “You have to come and see this guy,” he says. Simon is dragged along, going more so that his brother will leave him alone than out of any great faith. When Jesus meets Simon, he says, “Your name is going to be Rock.” The often-confused Simon is anything but a rock, but everything is starting to change.
Most of the time, we move toward God in small steps taken as much out of curiosity as out of faith. So what are we looking for? What are we looking for in worship? Why do we go to church? Some of us go because our parents didn’t give us a choice growing up. For some of us, our mother’s voice telling us to go to church somehow lodged in our minds, and we can’t get rid of it. Some of us go because it’s easier to go than to argue with our spouse about it. Do we go to worship with great expectations? The religious reasons we have for going are mixed at best. We’re interested in thinking about how we could live better lives. If we’re in worship for no good reason, that’s okay. Lots of people find their way by accident.
Jesus says, “Come and see.” The disciples stumble along, following without knowing where they are going, discovering well after the fact that they have wandered onto a path that leads to grace. “Come and see,” Jesus says, and in John’s Gospel the disciples soon taste water turned into wine, watch in horror as Jesus clears the temple, and listen with amazement to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, that the spirit of God blows wherever it wills. They stumble onto a way of life they have never imagined.
So again I ask, what are we looking for? Deep in our souls, we are looking for something to believe in and hold on to, something important enough to live for, and something big enough to claim our passions. We are looking for challenge and purpose. We are looking for God.
What begins with curiosity becomes a step toward grace. The emptiness we feel from time to time is God calling us to the paths that lead to meaning. God lets us know that we can look beyond our computers and coffee cups into the enchanted possibilities of grace. God is the one who makes us long for something that lasts. God draws us toward life even when we don’t recognize what’s happening.
“Come and see” is how the disciples’ story begins. It’s a wonderful line and a great way to start a story. “Come and see” is the invitation to explore, discover, and travel without knowing exactly where we are going, but to know that if we catch a glimpse of God, we will also catch a glimpse of who we can be. Come and see, and look for places where we’ve never been. Come and see what it means to hope, believe, and follow.
We are in church to open ourselves to God, who will lead us to new places. The people who follow Jesus end up doing the things Jesus did. They care for the hurting, listen to the lonely, feed the hungry, pray for the brokenhearted, bandage those who are wounded, do more than is expected. They look for God and find extraordinary lives.
The spirit of adventure is what calls us to worship.
We come to seek the meaning of life, join with people on the journey, and ask God to help us see where grace invites us. We come to look at the gifts we’ve been given and the needs of the world. We come to discover the possibilities.
If we worship God, if we share our lives with other people looking for God, we will see beyond what we have assumed. If we look for God, we will find that God is looking for us, offering life. This come and see defines a way a community is formed and lives. It is one of honoring the gifts of each. It is one of welcome.
Come and see is an invitation to live the fact we belong one to the other. Andrew returns and invites his brother Peter. This is an invitation approach- he is saying I learned about flourishing, why don’t you come and see if this is for you? This is an invitation of try this, live this and if you find quality in this community for flourishing, then you too will see that come and see is how we grow. No fear, no you are wrong, no lists, only come and see.
Along with “come and see” Jesus asks an intriguing question, “what is it that you need?” That’s a remarkably simple question, isn’t it? And yet, how often do we create space for it to be asked authentically and discerned faithfully?
Several years ago, one of my colleagues from seminary went to a convention that hosted a series of workshops—one of which was on the topic of Millennials (translation: people born roughly between 1980 and 2000) and the Church.
When he arrived for the workshop, they were asked to self-identify by generation: baby boomers, Gen Xers, the Greatest Generation, Millennials, and so on. Here’s how it panned out: Number of people attending the workshop born before 1980: 57. Number of people born in 1980 or after: 3—including my friend. For the next hour, the three millennials listened as the 57 other people in the room ask and answer the question of “what do millennials need” without ever actually asking the three millennials in the room.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this was an earnest and well-intentioned conversation. But it followed an all-too-familiar pattern: “We know what you need.”
Jesus, however, shows us a different way: “What is it that you need?”
- If you want to know what young people need, ask young people, and then listen for them to answer.
- If you want to know how to support and uplift young families, ask young families what they need from their church family, and then listen for them to answer.
Note, however, that the answer you receive may not be comfortable or easy to hear. Don’t ask the question if you can’t tolerate the answer. I’ve heard it said before, “The truth I have to tell may not be the truth you’re ready to hear.”
Even when we struggle to name or understand or articulate our faith; even when we opt for cheap substitutes we think we can buy or earn; even when we struggle to share our faith with others; even when we wonder if we believe anything at all, there stands Jesus, arms outstretched, still asking what it is that we most deeply need; still inviting us to come and see; and still determined to love us more than we can possibly imagine!
Who knew it could be that simple?