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Hanging out with God.



John 1:29-42

John testifies about Jesus

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, “A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’

32 Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.” 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.’

John’s disciples follow Jesus

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’

They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’), ‘where are you staying?’

39 ‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).



SERMON: Hanging out with God.


Jesus, when he saw the disciples following him, asked what they wanted, and when he heard them ask where he was staying (In other words, we don’t want to bother you now while you are busy, but do you mind if we come and visit you sometime?)

Jesus says the most amazing words: Come and see.

In other words, come and hang out! Jesus showed them that he wanted to spend some time with them. He began to build the relationship. I wonder about the conversation they had. Maybe Jesus, knowing the answers all along, asked them to tell him a little bit about themselves. What were their hopes and dreams? What were their troubles?


Does God want to hang out with me?

People for thousands of years have been trying to work out what God is like. Is God the angry judge, the doting grandfather, the law-giver?

In their quest to know more about God, the place where human beings have historically turned to, and with good reason, is the bible.

We love this as Lutherans right? We believe that Scripture alone is the only source and norm of all matters of doctrine and practice. Not tradition, not human opinion or culture.

But while this scriptural searching for the nature of God is important, it is also dangerous, because we are all different. And as much as we would like to think that the bible is the same for everyone, we read it differently, through different lenses. We can see this in the varieties of denominations, and of opinions even within our own church, that are all based on the word of God to be found in the bible.

This tells us that the old bumper sticker: “the bible says it, I believe it, case closed” is now not so easy to agree with.

The same bible can say different things to different people.

This means that when we go to scripture in our search for God, we need to be honest about what it is that we are looking for.

Going to the written word of Scripture, even though all of it is inspired and God-breathed, can sometimes tell us more about our selves than it does about him.

In the foreword to the book: a More Christlike God, Pastor Brian Zahnd says:


“If we want a God of peace, he’s there. If we want a God of war, he’s there. If we want a compassionate God, he’s there. If we want a vindictive God, he’s there. If we want an egalitarian God, he’s there. If we want an ethnocentric God, he’s there. If we want a God demanding blood sacrifice, he’s there. If we want a God abolishing blood sacrifice, he’s there. Sometimes the Bible is like a Rorschach test—it reveals more about the reader than the eternal I AM.”


Jersak, Bradley. A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel . CWR Press. Kindle Edition.


Indeed you can see that in South America they believe that God is a God of liberation from oppression. In North America he seems more concerned with political freedom and self-determination, and is less against riches than in some other places. Our reading of the bible tends to reflect our needs, and our interests.


So where are we to go to know what our God is like? Where is a truly objective image of God? There is a place where we can go, and it is completely inline with our view of Scripture alone.

The place where we go to find out what God is like is this: the Jesus who is the centre of Scripture.

Zahnd goes on to say:


“Jesus audaciously made this claim: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” What if that claim is true? Wouldn’t that be good news? Ah, that is the good news! God is like Jesus! This is Christianity, which is not to be confused with ‘biblicism.’ As Christians we worship Christ, not the Bible. The Bible is the inspired witness to the true Word of God who is Jesus. What the Bible does infallibly is take us on a journey that culminates with Christ—but it is Christ who fully reveals God.


Jersak, Bradley. A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel . CWR Press. Kindle Edition.


Where we go to know God is in the man Jesus Christ, who is both man and God.

Do we want to know if God is loving? Look at Jesus. Do we want to know if God is an angry God, a "mighty smiter" out to fry sinners? Look to Jesus. And when we do, I just don’t see that righteous retributive wrath in him.

I see a God who has been looking for a way back into relationship with us ever since Eden.

Can you see it in this Gospel lesson? The disciples are following at a respectful distance, and Jesus waits for them. He initiates the conversation. He asks how he can serve them (what do you want?) And the conversation begins. The relationship begins.

We too, just like the disciples, have a God who says, “come and see”. We have a God who is interested in us, who wants to get to know us better (or rather, who knowing us perfectly, wants us to get to know HIM better)


Wouldn’t it be amazing to eat together, with God, to sit together and chat about your hopes and dreams, your fears and anxieties?

This is what God wants for us. We know that because he shows us that in Jesus in the words today from the bible, the most authoritative and inspired and trustworthy source we have.


We see God most clearly when we see him in Jesus. In fact it is not only in Jesus’ life, but more than this, it is in one very special and tragic place. We see the love and power and glory of God most clearly amongst the hate and weakness and shame of a man dying on a cross.

We have what we can call a CRUCIFORM image of God. (Or one person has called it a "Cross-eyed" view of God.)

This is the God who, even more than just a cordial friendship relationship with us, was willing to sacrifice his own life to win back ours. Ours is a God who could not stand to be eternally separated from us, so he gave up himself to reconcile us, to bring us back.

It is in knowing this saving, redeeming, reconciling Jesus that we can now look back through the stories in the Old Testament, and see the pattern of God relentlessly pursuing his people in love, trying to find a way to live with them again like he had not been able to since the garden of Eden. It’s Jesus who shows us how far he was willing to go.


Where do others see him?

Where do others see God now? Those false I think images of an angry god, or a doting grandfather, or a genie in a lamp to rub by praying are still strong. God wants those who don’t know him to get to know him, but Jesus doesn’t walk the earth any more physically to say: “come and see, Come and hang out with me.” But we do. We, like Andrew are the ones to invite, to say “we have found the Messiah, come and see, he wants to hang out with you today.”

I pray that the people around us will see Jesus in us, that they will come to see Jesus in his word, and in knowing Jesus, they will know the love of our Father, and what he has done for them.

That is our opportunity. That is our calling. To make that God known. God bless you as you look for ways this week to invite others to come and see Jesus.

Amen.




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