Note: This post is part of the 2018 Blog Tour: What Are You Seeking.
Several weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone about worship. Suddenly, it dawned on me how much my thought process differed from other worshippers.
- There are some people who come to church each week asking “Will they sing the songs I like?” “Will the sermon meet my needs?” “Will my friends by there?” “Will my prayers be answered?” “Will my life be improved?”
- Then there’s another group of people who come wondering who God will bring this week. They’re praying for opportunities to speak encouragement into someone’s life. They’re looking around for people they can meet and serve, and hoping that some first time guests will attend this week.
At first glance I hope that #2 seems more spiritual, more godly, more mature. Generally speaking, I agree. But generalisations have exceptions. We should bear in mind that we all have times in our lives where we need to receive rather than give. We need to be served rather than serve. Additionally, at some point almost all of us walked through the doors of a church as guests with a list of questions asking whether this was the right church for us.
We were seekers seeking.
Some of us knew what we seeking. Others found the object of our search only when we stumbled upon it. We were all seeking.
Jesus asked a crowd of people a similar question in Matthew 11:2-15. Jesus’ cousin John has been imprisoned by Herod and sends messengers to Jesus. It seems that John wants confirmation that his ministry and now suffering were for the right reason, that they were worthwhile and that they mattered.
Jesus responds by giving a list of examples from his ministry, such as “the blind can see” that can be connected to messianic prophecies in the book of Isaiah such as Is 61:1-3. But then he turns to the crowd and asks this important question:
“Who did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Who were you seeking?
Matthew 3:5 records that, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan river.” That’s a lot of people going to see and hear John the Baptizer. Now, some years later Jesus asks, “Who did you go out into the wilderness to see?”
He gives some choices: “Was it a reed, blown in the wind, waving this way and that?” “Was it someone in fine linens who’d make your life more comfortable and prosperous?” “Or did you go to see a prophet.”
Jesus knew well that people came to see him for a variety of reasons: Entertainment, financial gain, truth-seeking, overthrowing the Romans, or protecting the status quo.
This blog series challenges us to reconsider our motives as we follow Jesus.
- Do we participate in his kingdom out of obligation or passion?
- Does our status as adopted children of God seem real to us, or a theoretical concept?
- Do we worship to please others, or because we love God?
- Do we desire to participate in expanding the borders of God’s kingdom, or do we like our church the way it is?
- Do we long to grow our relationship with God, or are we comfortable with our current level of knowledge and commitment?
What are you seeking? Really?
Imagine you had the opportunity to interview Jesus like you might interview the leader of a church you’re considering attending. What would you ask him?
- Jesus, will my relationship with God be restored if I follow you?
- Jesus, will my relationship with my husband be restored if I follow you?
- Jesus, will my family finally accept me if I follow you?
- Jesus, how much (or little) money do I need to give you to make you happy?
- Jesus, will I still get to do the things I really enjoy doing?
- Jesus, can I keep my friends?
- Jesus, how much time will I need to give you each week?
Without putting on your holy hat, what would you ask Jesus? What are you seeking… really? Will you take 10 minutes and make your list? When you’ve done that, pray over it. Read it to Jesus and see how the Holy Spirit moves your mind.
Peter Horne moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he now gladly serves as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester, NY. You can find more of his writing on his blog: https://ozziepete.wordpress.com. He also writes to equip multi-ethnic churches at www.culturalmosaic.org.