Week 1, Day 1: What do you want?
READ: JOHN 1:35-41
Jesus asked a lot of questions. In fact, when someone would ask him a question, he would often respond not with an answer but with another question. Jesus knew that the key to living well is not just about knowing the right answers but asking the right questions. The right question can disarm our defense mechanisms, unlock our long-locked doors, subvert the stories we have assumed, and ignite a fire in us that leads us down paths we might otherwise have been afraid to tread.
One of the first questions he asked in John’s account of his life was: “What do you want?” In other words, “What are you after?” or “What are you looking for?”
I could tell you about a man named Jesus, who I believe is the center point of the Christian faith and, indeed, of all of history; who was born about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East; who was both fully God and fully human; who lived a perfect, sinless life, inaugurating the kingdom of God on earth, bringing a glimpse of eternity into time; who was executed by crucifixion, a state-sanctioned death penalty, taking the sin of the world upon himself; who was resurrected from death to life on the third day, defeating sin, brokenness, and evil, restoring us to relationship with our Creator God and one another, and inviting us into full participation in the mission and story of God to reconcile all things to himself.
But that would all just be information — helpful information, hopefully, but information nevertheless. Perhaps you might not even agree with all of it — or any of it! — right now. Regardless, Jesus didn’t come to bring us good information — or even a lot of it — but to bring the good news that a deeper, more fulfilled life is available to us.
It is a fascinating and humbling reality that the God of the universe doesn’t simply tell us where to go or what to do, but first meets us where we are, with all of the hopes and fears and desires and anxieties we carry, and invites us into relationship. Someone told me once that unless we are honest about what we long for and we share that with God, we cannot have an authentic relationship with him. Father Ronald Rolheiser writes:
It is no easy task to walk this earth and find peace. Inside of us, it would seem, something is at odds with the very rhythm of things and we are forever restless, dissatisfied, frustrated, and aching. We are so overcharged with desire [what we want] that it is hard to come to simple rest. … Spirituality is, ultimately, what we do with that desire. What we do with our longings, both in terms of handling the pain and the hope they bring us, that is our spirituality.
Jesus asked the disciples of John the Baptist what they were looking for. They wanted to know where he was staying — they wanted to know who this man was. Jesus’ response to them was, “Come and see.” So they did, and they came away convinced that he was indeed the Chosen One of God.
We are all searching for something. What is the thing that, if you were to attain it, you think might make you happy or more content? Is it getting a job or getting a promotion? Is it being set free from the darkness of an addiction? Is it finding your purpose or finding love? Is it seeing some wrong made right or some injustice rectified? Is it bringing about some specific good in the world? What do you want?
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: At the beginning of this journey, how would you answer the following questions: who are you and what is your context?
Heart: How might you honestly answer the question, “What do you want?”
Hands: When you encounter someone today who does something you don’t understand — or you wouldn’t do yourself — consider how they might be answering the question “What do you want?” by their actions.
Thank God for meeting you where you are. Ask him to help you live honestly and authentically.
Jesus didn't come
to bring us good information;
he came to bring us good news.