What does “Come and see” look like in your life? If Jesus were to “come and see” in your daily living, what would he see? And what do others see in your encounters with one another?
It is possible, even easy, to go through the day without having a single face-to-face exchange. How do we live in relationship to others when our everyday lives are so isolated and all our encounters are at a remove? What would happen if, for one day, we went through the day with a resolution to ensure that every action was face to face? Instead of going through the drive-through ATM, park and go into the bank and speak with the teller. Instead of going through the drive-through at the restaurant and the pharmacy, park and go in. See how many people you encounter. And when they encounter you – what do they see? Do they see someone who is approachable, someone who is friendly, someone they would want to greet? Do they see Christ in you? Or do they see someone who gives off a vibe of “stay away”?
What would Jesus see in your life? We are in the season of Epiphany, from the Greek epiphanos, which means “being revealed.” What is being revealed in your walk with Christ?
It’s important to note that the first thing that happens in this passage is that John notices Jesus. He is understandably busy with his mission and message – but not so wrapped up in himself that he misses the reality right in front of him. He notices that here is the Lamb of God. And immediately he tells his own disciples. Rather than the admittedly challenging option of inviting total strangers to “come and see,” he starts with people he already knows.
What would happen if the people in your own life, people you interact with regularly, were asked how they knew that you walked with Christ, that you were a practicing Christian? What about you would stand out to those you know and love?
It’s been said that the average Lutheran invites someone to church with them once every twenty-seven years. At the same time, eighty-six percent of people say that they were moved to start attending a church because someone invited them.
Many of us have family members who live far away, for whom it’s not practical to invite to worship with us. But at the same time, we tend to move in the same circles day to day. We tend to see the same people who live near us, frequent the same stores, go to the same parks. Do those people see that you and I are walking with Christ? And how often do we make a point of saying, “Come and see” to people we actually know? How often are we inviting someone to worship with us?
So John models behavior that you and I could easily emulate, and several of his followers do just that. We can get out of our own little cocoons and actually notice what’s going on around us. We can make an effort to make sure we have actual interactions with others every day. And we can start where we are, and make sure that others see the Christ in us, and that we invite others to “come and see.” It is because of countless millions of examples of “come and see” down through the millennia that you and I are here today. But sometimes I fear that we are dropping the ball.
There is so much I take for granted, and maybe you do too. An acquaintance with rheumatoid arthritis, who happens also to be a fierce and inventive knitter, introduced me to the “spoon theory.” Imagine a handful of spoons in the silverware drawer. Your day begins when you wake up. Without too much effort or conscious thought, you toss aside the covers, sit up, stand up, and walk to the bathroom. For most of us, that represents a minimum of work. But for someone with a chronic illness, that might consume four of your spoons. Taking a shower, drying off, and drying the hair – that might be another three spoons. And you have to get dressed, that’s another spoon, and drive to work, and then work all day. Then drive home. By the end of the work day, you have maybe one spoon left. So you skip eating anything, because preparing food is just too much effort. And you get up off the sofa and go to bed, to sleep in your clothes, because you’ve used up your last spoon.
Every day, I do so many things for which I fail to thank God. I rise from a bed – thank God I have a bed. I take a shower – thank God for electricity and hot water. I eat breakfast – thank God for the food. I drive to work – thank God I have reliable transportation and a job to go to. Thank God for my sight and hearing, my vision and mobility and the use of my hands.
I wonder what would happen to my “come and see” meter if I devoted just one day to pausing and taking a moment to thank God for every single thing in my day that was a blessing from God. I wonder whether when other people looked at me they would see someone who was busy, distracted, grumpy, and just trying to get through the day? Or would they see Christ walking with me? More to the point, what would I see? What would change in my life if I actually noticed the Lamb of God?
The Rev. Jo Anne Taylor is the pastor of First Methodist Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. She points out: “In order to notice God at work among us, we have to be looking for it. As John’s disciples went after Jesus, his first words to them were, ‘What are you looking for?’ They had noticed Jesus, thanks to John, but his question must have brought them up short. What were they looking for? What did they really want to find?
“If we are to find God, to notice God working around and among us, we need to know what we are looking for,” she says. “The direction of our gaze is important. We may be looking in all the wrong places, noticing all the wrong things, and miss the Kingdom of God if we do not keep our focus on Jesus.”
So maybe over the next week, you and I could try consciously thanking God for all His gifts that we so often take for granted. That might turn us around, that might shine a light into what is meant to be at the core of our lives, so that we can feel more prepared to say, “Come and see” to others. What is it about having Jesus walking with us give us joy? What is it we love about worshiping with these people every week? If you or I happened to come upon an opportunity to say, “Come and see” to someone – would we have something to say?
Notice – share – invite. It seems small, but the results for someone else, and indeed for you and me, can become much greater than we can possibly imagine.