17 Jan Jump In: What Are You Looking For?
1Listen to me, O coastlands,
pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The LORD called me before I was born,
while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my cause is with the LORD,
and my reward with my God.”
5 And now the LORD says,
who formed me in the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the sight of the LORD,
and my God has become my strength —
6 he says,
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
7 Thus says the LORD,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers,
“Kings shall see and stand up, princes,
and they shall prostrate themselves,
because of the LORD, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
We are getting ready for our trip with Living Waters for the World. This means lots of meetings, lots of planning, and lots of work. I’m doing my best by trying to brush up on my Spanish, and so far, it’s “no Bueno.” I took three years in junior high and high school, but all I seem to remember is the first two weeks. I know how to ask where is the bathroom, but I can’t keep a conversation going beyond an Hola, Como Estas, No Me Gusta.
I’m always so amazed at immigrants to our country and their ability to pick up another language. English is much more difficult to pick up than Spanish. The key, I suppose, is a combination of necessity and desire. I am so humbled every time I go to a place where my language is not the common tongue.
I think I would do much better if I spent more than a week at a time in these different places. Full immersion is required. There is a need to be with the people. The streets of the Dominican Republic are very different from the Spanish classes of Southwest Missouri.
Think of mission as a trip we take once or twice a year. Mission is in everything we do. It’s in our worship, our education, our outreach, and in our discipleship.
The call of Christ is always to discipleship.
Our theme right now is “Jump In Joplin” – we are exploring what full immersion looks like in our community.
One of the few Spanish phrases I remember is, “Vaya Con Dios” – “Go with God.” I think it is most appropriate to today’s text.
Gospel John 1:29-42
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I 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.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When 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?” 39He 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. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He 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).
The Transition of Power – Churches are talking about it all over our nation. It’s the great hope of some and the deepest dread of others. We are all faced with the question: how do we move from the familiar we know to the uncertainty that is the inherent companion of change?
John is the known commodity. He has the ministry, the disciples, the fame/notoriety. He’s not just John, he is John the Baptist.
Along comes Jesus, and nobody really knows him yet – but, John realizes that God’s call on his life is as a finger pointing, a voice proclaiming, a life exhibiting something more is coming – SOMEONE more important is coming.
“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” In other words, “This is the guy I’ve been telling you about.
Was it the calling of the first disciples? There’s no fishing for people or leaving your nets…John the Baptist just announces, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” Two of John’s disciples hear this and begin to follow Jesus… It’s entirely unclear whether Jesus really invited them to tag along.
I imagine the scene in Forrest Gump, where he is running “for no particular reason at all” but people begin to follow – does he have all the answers?
Does Jesus have the answers – John seems to think so…
Jesus looks back and asks these famous first words – “What are you looking for?” It’s a fair question. What do you want with me? Like an employee in a department store, “Can I help you with something? Do we want to invest in Christ, or are we just looking around?
John’s disciples want more…
“Where are you staying?”
“Have you found Jesus?”
Success in the West means we’re moving out of Jesus’ neighborhood – someplace safer, easier, more carefree.
“What are you looking for?” It’s an appropriate question today as well. It’s not what are you expecting to see. It’s not what are you used to… We can see exactly what we’re looking forward if we’re not careful. Like Rorschach ink blot, we can see Jesus exactly how we want.
- Prosperity Gospel – health and wealth – self help
- Angry God – turn or burn
- Detached Academia – Ivory Tower Faith
- Summer Camp – Kum Ba Ya – S’mores, but not much more.
- Even Mission Trip God – Requiring only a week or two of our year – but the rest of the time is ours.
The Christian faith is a beautiful language, but it’s not easy to pick up. Most of the time, we can only remember a few phrases we picked up in the first few weeks or years of our faith, but it’s so much more. It’s a difficult language, but God invites us to have an immersion course – to be with the people.
The call of discipleship is to go where Jesus goes, see what Jesus sees, feel what Jesus feels, and love whom Jesus loves.
“What are you looking for?”
Come and see
Go and Be – Vaya Con Dios.