My Cause Is With God
Sunday 19th January 2014
Rev Charmaine Braatvedt
Isaiah 49: 1 – 7 and John 1: 29 – 42
One day when I was much younger and somewhat naive, I was walking along a track in Namibia when I came across this stone. I found it in an area where semi-precious stones were commonly found and not too far from where diamonds have been very occasionally found.
I picked up the stone and considered whether it was a diamond or not. No sooner had I done that when another thought popped into my head:
If it is a diamond then I will be rich, if it is not a diamond I will look foolish. Either way it is probably best I don’t tell anyone about my find.
For many months I remained silent about my find and then one day I took the stone to a jeweller and I suppose I would not be standing here today if the jeweller had been able to verify that it was a diamond.
Today’s Gospel reading is not about people finding diamonds but it is about people discovering something or rather someone of immense value, Jesus Christ the Messiah.
The reading starts with John identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Son of God. He says:
I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.
As a result of John’s testimony we learn that Andrew and another of John’s disciples followed after Jesus and made contact with him. They asked Jesus where he was staying because they wanted to have more than a superficial conversation with Jesus. It seems they wished to enter in and linger long with him and talk out the questions of life and their problems and dilemmas with him.
Jesus’ response was to welcome them with a phrase common to him: Come and see. This invitation was not only to come and talk with him, but to come and find the things that Jesus alone could open out to them. The experience was so profound for them that the writer was able to remember the exact time the event occurred. 4pm.
It’s a bit like knowing what you were doing when Kennedy was assassinated or the planes flew into the twin towers, or when princess Dianna died. These men found their encounter with Jesus to be a profoundly defining moment in their lives. So much so that we read that “the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him. Tell him what?
“We have found the Messiah, that is the Christ”.
And Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.
I wonder what might have happened if Andrew had kept his discovery to himself. If instead of sharing his great discovery of the Messiah with Peter he had simply gone on with his life keeping this discovery quiet. Peter was the rock on which Christ would build his Church, a Church that has lasted 2,000 years.
Interestingly the story continues with a description of Jesus going to Galilee the next day and finding Philip.
He says to Philip “follow me” and what did Philip do next? Philip also could not keep the good news about Jesus to himself. We read in the text that “Like Andrew, Philip went and found his friend Nathanael and told him “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the prophets also wrote.” He shared his discovery of the Messiah with Nathanael.
You see that is how the Church started. That is how Christianity started: One person telling another about Jesus; one person pointing out the way to Jesus to another person.
And Andrew did not stop at sharing the news with Peter only. He went on to bring others to Jesus also. He brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus; he brought the questioning Greeks into the presence of Jesus.
Having himself found the diamond that is Jesus, he spent all of his life introducing others to Jesus. Andrew is our great example of someone who could not keep Jesus to himself. However he is not alone in this evangelical mission. Christianity spread because those who discovered the messiah, the Christ, then went on to share the good news with others. And so the Christian faith became a world faith.
What did Jesus offer, that made people excited about sharing him with others?
I have a friend who has an adopted daughter. From the moment she found out that she was adopted she had a hunger to discover her birth mother. Who was the person who had given her life? She searched and searched until my mother helped her find her birth mother. Now unfortunately, I have to say that my niece was very disappointed when she eventually met up with her birth mother and nothing much has come of that relationship, but I tell you the story because it illustrates a much deeper search that is common to all people.
Deep in our hearts and souls we all want to be in a relationship with the creative force, the person, who gave us life i.e. God.
We are all hungry to meet and get to know and be accepted and be in relationship with the one who has given us life, who sustains our lives.
Jesus shows us the way and indeed is the way to finding that relationship. In that sense he is the messiah because he saves us from orphan-hood and reconciles us to the one who is the source of our lives and all life.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
What a spiritual diamond we have found!!!
From time to time we are challenged by the Great Commission.
“Go into all the world” Jesus instructs us “and preach the good news.”
So often when we read this we think:
“ Surely that cannot apply to me. Surely I am not expected to do that, that must be someone else’s job”.
Here’s the thing, we are expected to do that.
When the Christian Faith started no one believed in Christ and each convert came as a result of a testimony or witness, an Andrew or a John or a Philip who pointed out Jesus and shared the good news that a messiah had been found that would lead them to the one who gives us life. Then each convert then went on to tell someone else the same story. Those who kept the story to themselves, made it a private matter, did not help the Church nor were they faithful to one of the very few commandments Jesus gave us:
“Go and preach the good news.”
And what of us? Why are we reluctant to share the discoveries we have made about Jesus.
Going back to my story about the diamond I think there are one of two reasons we may hold back on sharing our faith with others:
- The first possible reason is that we are only interested in what our faith can do for us and for our family. About this attitude we read God speaking through the prophet Isaiah:
“ It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob …… I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth”.
In other words “it is not enough that you make your faith a private matter or you tell only your family about me, I want you to tell everyone about me so that my salvation becomes global.”
- The second possible reason is that we are insecure about our faith. In our heart of hearts we are not sure that Jesus is really a diamond at all. We are not sure what we really believe about Jesus and so we are reluctant to share it lest it turns out the diamond is not a genuine diamond after all.
You see we have to know Christ ourselves before we can invite others to come to him. We ourselves must have experienced Christ before we will have the confidence to invite others to do the same. The only true evangelist is the one who knows Christ for themselves.
This brings me to Alpha which we are running in Lent.
Alpha is a 7 week course which sets out in bite sizes the Gospel of Christ. Each week we share a meal with others who have been invited and then we like Andrew spend time together talking over the big questions of life and the problems and dilemmas that accompany them and hear what Jesus has to say about them. In this way we come to encounter Christ for ourselves and then we point others to Jesus, just as John did and Andrew did and Philip did. Who knows one of the people we invite along may well turn out to be as influential in kingdom building as Peter was.
Each generation has to do what the early church did, build the kingdom of Christ for its generation. We cannot rely solely on the work of those who have gone before us. The world needs to find God the Father/Mother: life-giver, just as much today as it did in Andrew’s time and we are the modern Andrews.
There are many ways to do this but this Church of Holy Trinity is offering you one way in Alpha.
If you have found the diamond of Christ, share the good news with others, invite someone to attend the Alpha course. The course starts at the end of February. Don’t just tell them about the course, do what Andrew did, take them to Jesus, accompany them on the course.
If you are not sure whether the diamond you have found in Jesus is indeed a diamond, then come and do the Alpha course yourself. Once you have verified that Jesus is indeed a precious diamond you will be far more willing to share him with others and you will most likely feel confident enough to invite someone to the next Alpha course which we are running in the third term.
Something happened at Jesus’ baptism that convinced John beyond all doubt that Jesus was the son of God.
I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.
Having made this discovery John felt compelled to share this discover with others, and so John’s mission was to point others to Christ.
This is true for us today also. When we discover Jesus the messiah it becomes our God-given mission to share this discover with others.
So there are a number of options open to each of us this Lent.
- Do the Alpha course yourself in order to build up your own faith
- Do the course with someone you have invited as a way of sharing Jesus with them
- Make it possible for others to do Alpha by volunteering to help us run the Alpha course.
May God bless your choosing.