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Come and see

January 13, 2018

Life can change so much but if you’re like me it can be so hard to spot the new turnings that appear, at least it’s so hard to spot them in time to take them. Sometimes it’s such an unlikely turning that I wouldn’t normally even give it a second look. The trick I’ve learned is not to look – to feel: To feel my way forward, asking not, “Does this look right?” but “Does this feel right?”

That took me back to crossing streams in the North York Moors as a boy. The streams are fast and cold, and can be dangerous at times if you lose your footing. The trick is not to look to closely but to test the depth with a stick, and each step carefully with your foot before putting your weight on the next stone. Those streams are so clear that your sight deceives you. I remember seeing this lovely little stream, shallow and calm. I took off my boots and socks and stepped in. The next thing I knew I was under water and travelling down stream at quite a speed. The water was so clear that a six foot depth looked less than a foot. Neither was there anything floating by to show me how fast it was flowing! I spluttered, came to the surface and managed to get to the bank. I never trusted just my eyes and common sense again! I learned to test things and to ask, “does this feel right?” before plunging in.

With all of this in mind I turned to the story of Philip introducing Nathanael to Jesus (John 1.43-51). Once Nathanael hears that this possible Messiah comes from Nazareth he rejects him instantly, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But his friend Philip persuades Nathanael to have another look – he persuades Nathanael to go to Jesus and find out whether he ‘feels’ right. Nathanael meets Jesus and the rest is history.

That made me think about how I am as a Christian and how I share the wonder of Jesus with others. Religion has such a bad reputation these days. Religion for so many people in this country means the Paedophile Priest, the Terrorist Bomber or Gunman, the Crazy Person shouting at the street corner – or religion means – boring, restrictive, life limiting, life denying or just plain sad and deluded.

There are few really positive images of religion or people of faith that seem to make it into the minds of those outside.

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

“Can anything good come out of Religion?”

“Can anything good come out of Faith?”

I know that the answer to all of these is “Yes”, “Yes”, and “YES”! But how to help anyone else to discover this for themselves?

Like most Christians I get so hung up about this. How can I share faith in a way that others can except? How can I share faith in a way that offers people the freedom to explore the wonders that I am exploring? So much advice seems so contrived, so dishonest. Non-Christians are too often treated as prey for the Evangelist – new scalps to fix to the preacher’s Bible!

I’m sure that God doesn’t see anyone like that. All that I read in the Bible, and all that I have experienced of God, convince me that everyone is welcomed as a lost child is welcomed home, with love and acceptance; as well as with patience. I am so glad that God is patient with me as I settle in to my real home with him.

I find so little that I read about evangelism helpful, so in desperation I turned to the Bible (why do I never learn to do that first!) – So I turned to the Bible to that passage about Nathanael and Philip and I read what Nathanael did to encourage Philip that Jesus was worth a second look; I read, “Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ “

‘Come and see’! Can it really be as simple as that? But why not? God loves me so much that he guides me by his Spirit and leads me to Jesus. So if God loves every person at least as much as he loves me, then he will guide them to Jesus too, in the way that is right for them. He will guide me too to say the right things or to keep my mouth shut. All I need to do is stop and listen to the Spirit speaking within me, step up and say, ‘Come and see’.

The rest is up to God – I’m so relieved about that!

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