Monday, November 24, 2008

knowing and showing

"Sir, we wish to see Jesus." – Jn 12:21

I’ve always been fond of these words. In the context of John’s Gospel (JG), Jesus has entered Jerusalem for the final time. His crucifixion is less than a week away. And a group of Greeks – a codeword for Gentile, outsider, and pagan – come to Phillip with a request. “We wish to see Jesus.” We want Jesus. Bring us to him. Show us Jesus.

I don’t want to overlook the context of these words. In the context of JG, they’re the fulfillment of v. 19 – “the whole world has gone after him.” But what interests me more about these words – “we wish to see Jesus” – is their application. In my opinion, this request is still the world’s challenge to our church. The unbelievers of our world still make this same petition to those of us who believe. “We want Jesus. Bring us to him. Show us Jesus.”

Historically speaking, the Greeks – being Gentiles – didn’t worship the God of Israel. For all I know, they worshipped a wooden boot. But in an odd way, so does our world (and so do we). Our world worships money, success, prestige, reputation, power, science, sex, and a million other “wooden boots” that we rely on to find meaning. And yet, none of these things bring lasting peace or security. None of them quench our thirst. And deep down, our world wants the Real Deal. We want the Real Deal. We wish, above all else, to see Jesus.

And that’s what the church is all about – knowing the Real Deal, and showing the Real Deal. The world wants to see Jesus. They don’t want to see a tract. They don’t want three easy steps to salvation. They don’t want to be bullied or judged. No. They want to see Jesus. They want to see the love and the holiness and the compassion and the truth and the commitment and the gentleness and the selflessness of Jesus lived and preached. And the world wants the church – those who believe – to show them these things. The world wants the church to show them Jesus.

FOR TODAY: I believe it was Anonymous who said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing” (actually it was Kierkegaard). For Christians, that one thing is Jesus. To the extent that we know Jesus – which is not the same as knowing about Jesus or the bible – we’ll show Jesus to the world. That’s why Paul said that the will of God boils down to “our sanctification” (1 Thess 4:3). Because to the extent that Jesus’ love, holiness, compassion, truth, commitment, gentleness, and selflessness dwell in us, we show the world Jesus. Like Jesus said, “a city built on a hill cannot be hid” (Matt 5:14). Our world wishes to see Jesus. For today, do something to grant our world’s request.

1 comment:

KAM said...

A certain relation of mine doesn't like that you choose not to capitalize the "B" in Bible. Please remedy this immediately, for both our sakes.