In my series of posts The proper care and feeding of elephants, I write about conversations which probably should take place but never do that can do some serious damage to relationships over time. Words are powerful, both the expressed and the implied.
Last Sunday at my church, our pastor Jeff challenged us to begin reading a chapter of the book of John a day. As with most Bible reading plans I’ve done, I started off strong and committed to my daily reading only to lose steam by the end of the week. Fortunately, the plan actually calls for reading five chapters in seven days, so as of this morning I’m caught up. Along with my typical array of excuses as to why I fell behind in my bible reading plan, I think I actually have a legitimate excuse.
I got stuck in the first chapter.
Shortly after I was baptized, it was suggested I begin reading the Bible beginning in the book of John. As is the case with most books in the Bible, every time I read John I come away with new insight, and every time this happens, I think to myself, how could I have missed something so incredibly obvious all this time? I suppose the short answer is that my heart and my mind were not open to a particular truth until that time.
Many Christians can recite the first few lines of John:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Which is not to say any of these words should become rote. There’s a lot to digest in those first five verses. In subsequent verses, John makes some pretty audacious claims about who Jesus is and who he (John) is not. In verse 29, John sees Jesus and says, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” It is not until verse 38 that we see the words of Jesus. Two of John’s disciples see Jesus and begin following him. Jesus turns around, sees them following him and what does he say?
Does he say, “I am the Lamb of God” or “I am God walking among you, fully God yet fully human?”, or “I am the only true hope of salvation and the only pathway to God?”
The first recorded words of Jesus in the book of John are:
“What do you want?”
And since we know he’s Jesus, we can infer that he knows what they want. But he knows his days are numbered. Everything he says, every action he takes must mean something; must be a teachable moment. So what is Jesus really saying to them? I think he’s saying:
Tell me what you want.
Oftentimes the direct approach is best, especially when motivated by love.
Anything you need to say to someone? Maybe today’s the day.