I've said before that I'm very strongly right brained. I love the abstract and the creative. Still, my left brain won't let go. In college, I had to memorize hundreds of scientific names for hundreds of different things; Platanus occidentalis, Hyla versicolor, Cornus florida, Quercus alba...and I could keep going. I learned those things, the trees, the animals, and their latin names by spending time with them. I studied the scale pattern on snakes so that I could tell the difference between the genus Agkistrodon and the genus Elaphe... I would look at the stem of a Prunus serotina leaf and find that tiny little node that lets you know it's a Prunus serotina.
In my dendrology (tree ID) class, we didn't just sit in a classroom and listen to lectures. Dr. White would load us up in a van and take us out into the middle of the woods, and then say, "Come and see what we've been talking about." That's how I learned. In my herpetology (snakes, reptiles, and amphibians) class, Dr. Zimmerer would lecture, but then we'd load up in a van and head out, pillow cases in one pocket, field guide in the other, snake stick in hand, and we'd go catch snakes. "Come and see" was the way we operated. Hands on. Real time. I learned a lot about which ones to leave alone, and which ones I could handle, and I came away from more than one trip bleeding from snake bites.
So, why is it that when it comes to the greatest field guide ever written, we forget that our teacher told a bunch of guys to "Come and see"? We seem to be content showing up on Sunday morning for a couple hours, maybe a Wednesday night something, but what about the rest of the week? Are we offering an invitation for folks to "Come and see" what this Jesus life can really be like?
In John 1, that's what happened. A couple of John's disciples were sitting around one day and Jesus walked by. With all of the questions they could have asked the Son of God, the one that came out of their mouths was, "Teacher, where are you staying." Now, let me go just a little deeper for a second. They weren't really asking Jesus where he was sleeping that night, they asked him, "Where are you abiding?" There's a difference.
What was his answer? "Come and see." He was inviting them to be a part of his mission, to show folks that the Roman Empire did not get the last laugh, and that all of the difficulties of day to day life then was not what God had intended.
I have friends that have been turned off of church because of some of the attitudes they find there. My home church, the one that I came out of to enter the ministry, is evidently hell bent on self destruction because some of the folks there have forgotten that our mission is to help folks on this "Come and see" adventure. I have served churches that have self destructed for the very same reason. They have forgotten that this Jesus life begins with a desire to "come and see," but that it doesn't end there. We are then commissioned to help other folks "come and see." So, how are we doing?
Do our attitudes and behaviors as a group of Jesus followers reflect, not only our desire to follow on the "come and see" mission, but also our desire to help others do the same? Folks will learn some by reading the field guide, but they will really begin to learn when someone invites them to "come and see." My question is, if they decide to get up and come with us, what do they see?
My heart breaks for folks who have been turned off by the way some church folk behave. Because of us, they are missing out on one of the greatest stories ever told. They may never hear that Jesus loves them regardless of how bad they have screwed up their lives. And they may never find the peace that I know they are looking for.
So, if you are a member of a church, and you have your mind focused on ANYTHING but becoming a closer follower of Jesus, AND helping others along after they decide to "come and see," STOP IT! For crying out loud. Grow up...Stop being selfish...Realize it is not about you...And allow God to do through us what God wants to do. AND, if you know someone who is behaving like this, feel free to send them a link to today's blog. That type of behavior is not what Jesus invited those first two guys to come and see.