We have been spending a lot of time in John’s gospel during our Sunday morning services lately. At the beginning of that gospel, when Jesus had attracted his first two disciples, this startling question is recorded:
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38a NIV)
A pastor friend of mine recently told the story of a research student who polled random people in a certain city. This student asked each individual the same three questions, and all three questions were exactly the same:
What do you want?
How would you respond to that question? What do you want? Perhaps there is a pressing need in your life; perhaps a loved one is ill, or you have outstanding bills that need to be paid. Maybe you feel pressed for time in your everyday life, and you would like a real vacation – or more hours in the day! Maybe what you want relates to your work, your home, or your family. For me, I certainly could use more hours in the day, or perhaps a clone of myself to get twice as much done!
But now think about the question on a deeper level: What do you want? What is really most satisfying in your life? Where do you find the most meaning? What drives you? What motivates you? The things that motivate us reveal what is really important to us. There are only so many priorities that we can have, and certain events or circumstances just won’t get us to behave, feel, or believe differently. But other priorities are higher in importance for us. Personally, one of the (lighter) things in this category is interacting with my dog Jake. Sometimes, such as just now, I will look over from my desk, see him looking at me, and watch him start to wag his tail as we stare at each other. Then after a few seconds he stands up slowly – his back hips are getting rusty – and comes over to be petted. Call me crazy, but this helps me remember something about live and love and family and relationships.
So here’s the third and final question: What do you want? What is this all about? Why do you believe in Jesus (if you do)? How would you respond to Jesus’s question in John 1:38? What are we really about? Why does our church exist? Why does the church exist? My answers to this … well, my answers hopefully come through each sermon you hear at Mt. Haley.
This sequence of questions invites us to think more deeply about our lives, our church, and the meaning of everything we do. The answers we give are probably the most important thoughts we have.
The disciples responded to Jesus by saying,
“Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” (John 1:38b NIV)
My pastor friend commented that when we truly listen to our deepest desires, our answers to the ultimate questions, then we will hear God’s voice leading us forward. Let us all listen carefully for the voice of the Good Shepherd and find out where he is staying, so that we might stay there with him and learn from him.