Monday, January 12, 2015

Jesus Gets Found (John 1:19-51) and the Art of Discovery

God Gets Flesh - John 1:1-18 sermon

A few years ago a friend tipped me off about a band called Page CXVI. The female vocalist has a mesmerizing voice. The instrumentation is simple, articulate, and luring. The band modernizes hymns, making the old new again. I would have never discovered them had it not been for a friend's suggestion.

Until recently, my music tastes were restricted to what an in-law, peer, or oily Karma employee suggested. Then came Spotify. I plugged Page CXVI's name in the search bar and listened. They captivated me. I wanted more music like theirs. So I began to explore. A musical discovery is a click away.

A new era of musical exploration has arrived. The technological climate is right. Voices cry out from the fiber-optic highway. Discovery has never been so easy.

Messianic discovery may not have been so different. Some of Jesus' first disciples came to Him at the suggestion of a trusted mentor. (If you like John the Baptist, you'll certainly like Jesus.) John pointed his finger out at Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb." From that moment forward, followers began to pile up. Andrew and Peter and Philip and Nathaniel discovered Jesus.

And as the story unfolds, it is clear they can't wait to show and tell others. Discovering Jesus is contagious.

Sadly, just as a song fails to retain its audience captive (not a problem of the song as much as its patron), followers of Jesus lose their sense of discovery and wonder. We (for I am one of them) turn our eyes from the Lamb and tune our ears to our laments.

What I suggest are a few tips to rekindle a sense of spiritual discovery.

  • Ask for recommendations: Just as we ask others what music they listen to, movies or television shows they watch, books they are reading, and their favorite place to eat Mexican food, we should ask them about their spiritual habits. How do you worship? How do you pray? How do you study God's Word? Others are good pointers.
  • Look for new solutions: Authors of the book Creative Confidence suggest keeping a "Bug Sheet" handy, a one-stop document or notebook where you write things that pester you. Innovation, they argue, stems from finding new solutions to lingering problems. For example, I'm harassed by my lack of prayer; so I'm writing a book about to exorcise that demon. You might be bothered by poor Bible reading habits. Try a YouVersion plan.
  • Get lost: I don't always drive with a map or GPS. I almost always get lost. But not forever. Eventually, I find my way through city traffic or country roads with a better sense of my location. Getting lost in a Lego project, web search, podcast, or Bible reading marathon helps you discover new landmarks. Try reading Isaiah in two sittings. I dare you.
  • Limit your senses: One of the worst parts of getting a cold is losing your sense of taste. I always notice, however, my sense of texture increases. I notice the rubbery feel of eggs, the grainy feel of salt, and the scratchy feel of toast. The limitation of one sense boosts the others. Discovery comes when we take silent retreat, fast, or shut our eyes (or, perhaps, open them) during prayer and worship. 
  • Show and Tell: When Andrew found Jesus he showed and told Peter. When Philip found Jesus (or was found by him), he showed and told Nathaniel. Perpetuate discovery by passing it along. And don't be afraid to say, "Eureka." It's biblical.

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