“What are you looking for?”

Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Psalm 40:1-11
John 1:29-42
The Rev. Greg Durig

Please forgive me – but I’m kind of new here and so I have a question for you.  “What are you looking for?”  This question – which Jesus asks Andrew in today’s gospel – is a question that – we also (as individuals and as a community of faith) ask ourselves from time to time.  We may not ask it out loud – we may not even consciously realize that we are asking ourselves this question.  But we ask it just the same.  Every time we contemplate our future – every time we stop to assess where our lives might be taking us – we ask ourselves anew what it is that we are seeking.

And then – our brains start churning – don’t they?  We start considering all of our problems, possibilities and alternatives.  What am I looking for?  What exactly does the world I live in have to offer me today?  What new thing can I attain that would be helpful or fulfilling?

In those moments when we are seeking – we aren’t looking for just any old thing – are we?  No – we are in search of something good – something which gives us new hope – or something which excites us – or something which can fulfill some unmet desire.  And so – as our brains start stirring and churning – we think about our past experiences and conversations and lessons learned in order to hone in on new a direction that seems to make the most sense or offer the most potential benefit.

As we consider our possibilities – one thing is for sure.  The world which we live in offers us an awful lot of alternatives – and those alternatives literally call out to us.  Do you need a new direction!  Do you require something exciting and new!  No problem – because I have just the thing for you.  What you need is – this new hobby or career (apply right here and be all that you can be).  You need a new image (buy this product because you deserve it).  You need a new relationship (try this web site and find your perfect match).  You need freedom from pain and a healthier body (buy these products or pills and just do it).  And so it goes – on and on and on.

Yes – during those times in our lives when we are seeking something helpful or good or meaningful in life – there is no shortage of possibilities offered by this world.  And we are absolutely bombarded with messages designed to peak our interest and draw us in – messages designed to make us think we need something more – something that we didn’t even know we needed just a few days before.

For me – it doesn’t seem that long ago that I didn’t realize I needed 500 channels and streaming video on demand to be happy – or three cars in my garage to feel prosperous – or 500 Facebook friends to feel connected and fulfilled.  I didn’t realize it until the world told me.

Yes – the world is extremely good at understanding our desire to seek something better in life – and taking advantage of those inclinations by enticing us to grasp onto the next new thing.

But isn’t it funny how we very quickly realize that what we are told we need so badly is only a temporary balm – and ultimately – an inadequate medicine for a yearning soul?  And so – our seeking heart returns – and once again the world is only too glad to tell us about the next new big thing.

Grace be unto you – and peace – from God our Father – and from Jesus Christ – the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  AMEN!

God understands that all of us are seeking.  But instead of conjuring up products and empty promises which distract us from our truest need – God asks us to walk with him – and talk with him – in order to – together – find what truly satisfies our seeking heart – forever.  When Jesus asked Andrew to really consider what it was that he was looking for – he was asking Andrew to look beyond the world’s temporary offerings and promises – and to search the very core – of his own heart.

And by engaging Andrew – by inviting him to “come and see” – Jesus was inviting him into a personal and intimate relationship.  Ultimately – it was this relationship that made it possible for Andrew to recognize his truest need.

What are you seeking Andrew?  What is it really that you are looking for?  Are you looking for wealth, power over others, or prestige and adoration?  Are you seeking a trouble-free life – free of any suffering or sacrifice?  Come with me Andrew – abide with me for a little while – hang out with me today – and let us – together – search into your heart.

Isn’t what you really need something much more fulfilling and real – something much more significant – than what the world can offer?  Isn’t what you really need – direction and a divine purpose.  Isn’t what you yearn for – forgiveness and freedom from guilt – Peace and freedom from fear – Hope and freedom from despair – Love and freedom from a bitter and self-serving heart?

You can have all these things Andrew – the Kingdom of heaven is yours today.  I give them all to you – you don’t have to seek any further because I am with you – and whenever you follow me – they are yours.

Jesus’ invitation to Andrew – and to us – to come and see – is an invitation for us to abide – to hang out – to form a deep and honest relationship with the only one who can truly and eternally satisfy our seeking heart.  Andrew accepted Jesus’ invitation to spend time together – and by accepting the invitation – by abiding with Jesus – his heart was embraced by its eternal destination.  His heart was claimed – and the purpose, forgiveness, peace, hope and love that he sought was found.

Our gospel lesson today tells us that once Andrew accepted Jesus’ invitation to come and see – once Andrew’s heart was found and claimed by Jesus – his first reaction and response was to share the good news with his brother.  Scripture tells us that Andrew got up in order to find his brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah”.  We have finally found what we are looking for.  Simon – just come and see.

Based on the description of what happened on that day in our gospel lesson – it seems that Andrew had to share the good news.  He seems to have had an irresistible impulse to do exactly what Jesus had first asked him to do – “come and see.”

So – given what happened after Andrew took the time to hang out with Jesus – it makes me wonder – what about us?  When was the last time, for instance, that you invited a friend or neighbor to “come and see”?  And if it has been a while – why is that?

If it is because you don’t think any of your friends and neighbors are seeking – I am about 100% sure that you are wrong about that.  If it is because you have somehow convinced yourself that your relationship with God is a “private” matter – I have one word for you.  I don’t think so.

Testifying about our relationship with God and inviting our neighbors to “come and see” is not just our great commission.  It is an irresistible result of spending time with Christ.  So – there can be only one explanation when we fail to or feel hesitant about witnessing to others.  It can only mean that we are allowing the temporary and ultimately disappointing distractions of the world get in the way of our spending time with Christ.

The world is full of offerings and promises that can – if we aren’t careful – consume our time and attention.  But only our Lord and Savior offers us what we really need.  Every day – Jesus asks us: “What is it that you are looking for?”  And every day – Jesus invites us to abide with him – to spend time with him through worship, study, meditation and prayer.

And when we do so – when listening to and following Christ truly becomes our essential priority every day – then – our eyes are opened to the grace and love and life which we seek – and we are blessed by news so powerful that it must be shared.

Let us pray now and every day:  Dear God – Only you can provide what we are truly looking for.  Draw us into your presence and abide with us.  Grant us light for our darkness; courage for our fears; hope for our despair; peace for our unrest; joy for our sorrows; strength for our weakness; and wisdom for our confusion.  And most of all Lord – grant us the eternal power of your love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN.