"'What are you looking for?'"
--Jesus, in John 1:38
John the Baptist had the ministry of pointing. If he was a dog, of course he'd be a pointer. His job, under the guidance of God, was to sniff out messianic movements in first-century Judea, find the right one, and make sure everyone around him heard about it. John pointed to Jesus. "Look," John kept exclaiming, "here he is!" He pointed to Jesus, this unassuming, unknown, unacclaimed carpenter from backwater Galilee. "Here he is!" That was John's main message. And we know from the Fourth Gospel, that at least two of his disciples took his message to heart. They followed Jesus. I mean they literally walked after him. When Jesus became aware of their stalking presence, he turned and asked them, "What are you looking for?" That is the question they needed to be asked. That's the question we need to be asked now.
"What are you looking for?" Jesus asked those two disciples: are you looking for a military-political leader to guide occupied Israel to its former independent greatness? In other words, are you looking for a new King David? Are you looking for an exciting new rabbi with tantalizing teaching to tickle your tastebuds? What are you looking for? Is it a prophet to stun you with miracles and a fresh word from God? They seemed tongue-tied by Jesus' question. All they can stutter out in response is "Where are you staying?" A question answered by a question. Typical Jewish interaction in the first-century, but this time, not terribly profound. Jesus is kind in his response: "Come and see." Even though they can't articulate an answer to his probing question, Jesus doesn't turn them away. He invites them in for a closer look. So gracious.
What are we looking for today? Are we looking for Jesus to give us Ten Tips for Successful Living? Is it self-improvement techniques from a top-notch motivational speaker that prompts us to consider him? Or, are we looking for the ultimate affirmation, that in following Jesus, we are indeed a good girl or good boy, after all? Is it religious (or even psychological) reassurance we seek? Is it the comforting haven of religion? What are we looking for?
We need to be asked this question from time to time. It gets at the root of who we are and what we need at the deepest level. What motivates us, deep down, to follow Jesus? Why do we want to draw near to him? What do we need or expect from him? Are we even in touch with this core of who we are? These aren't questions just for the so-called "seekers" who haven't yet made a decision about Jesus. These are questions for those of us who are Christ-followers, especially those of us who've been at it a long time. We can get grooved into our holy habits (not necessarily a bad thing) and begin to lose sight of our heart's longing. What do we look for in following after Jesus?
Here's how I answered that question today in my journal: "I am looking for closeness to you, Lord Jesus. I want to know you and feel your love for me, flawed person that I am. I want your love and grace and Holy Spirit-power to so flood my life that I am truly taken on a journey of transformation into the ultimate wholeness that can only come from you."
"What are YOU looking for?" How do you respond?
"What motivates us, deep down, to follow Jesus?"
Or, even, what motivates us to do anything? Different people are motivated by different things: fear, rewards, recognition, love, hunger, adventure, etc. Understanding how we are made helps us understand how to engage.
My favorite interview question is "What motivates you?" It's both a practical question as a future manager, and a philosophical one, to see if the candidate has a sense of self-awareness and introspection.
"What motivates you?" I love it! Great question--and probing, too, in the best of ways. Thanks, John.
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