They say that “familiarity breeds contempt” but I’m not so sure. True, we do get to know people at their best AND their worst when we spend a lot of time with them. Everytime someone compliments me on this or that act, I’m always reminded that most of the time people outside my immediate family are seeing me at my best. But my wife and my children see me at the times when I’m impatient, or tired, or short-tempered. So, yes, I guess familiarity can breed contempt if there is no love or repentance.
But what about our insistence that we should get to know God? In fact, the whole Christian faith is all about helping persons reconnect with God and to do what our first parents, Adam and Eve failed to do; build such an intimate and loving relationship with God that we actually start to become “like” Him. No, getting close to God won’t uncover His “imperfections” like happen with us. I sometimes wonder if that’s the reason many don’t do the work necessary to be close to God: they are either afraid He will let them down OR (more likely) they are afraid He will see their imperfections. The truth is, He already sees all about us and declares He loves us still!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in John 1:35-52:
At that time, John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “Where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
Here, the ministry of the last and greatest prophet of the Jewish Faith is doing what he does best – send people to Jesus. John’s disciples start following the Lord and Jesus does what He normally does – ask a probing question to test the motives of those around Him. And this is the question the Lord asks us today: “What do you seek?” You see, if you are ever going to develop a healthy spiritual life it is going to be as you truly answer that question: What do you seek? What do you desire? It is in the honest evaluation of your own heart that frees you from delusions and sets you on the right path.
The disciples answer well: “Where are you staying?” The key to truly being able to answer the question “What do you seek?” depends on your desire to be where Jesus is! And notice how the Lord answers their question: “Come and see.” The value of developing your relationship with God doesn’t come by having your curiosity satisfied or some guarantee of benefit. No, we must trust that following Christ WILL LEAD us to His home, to where He is staying. And it is in dwelling with Him that we are most able to become “like” Him. Occasional visits, or perfunctory practice only leaves us along the path but never arriving to where He is staying.
And what does this staying with Him produce? “We have found the Messiah!” Being with the Lord settles the issue of His true identity. He is the savior. He is the One Promised. And coming to Him and following Him means you will be changed. Your very identity will be shaped by being with Him. Why, even your name will be changed to reflect the newness of life given to you by Christ!
Today, do you desire to know where the Lord lives? If you do, be assured that, if you “come and see” your life will be changed by this courageous following of Christ. And this change will transform not only your own life but those around you as well. It may even ignite a flame of desire to know God in hearts that didn’t even realize they needed to know God!
P.S. Did you know that a full 30% of all charitable giving happens during this time of year? And 10% of that giving happens toward the end of December. Don’t wait till the last minute to remember your Orthodox spiritual discipline of almsgiving. This is one of the “three legs” of Orthodox faithfulness! Remember your parish, the poor, and ministries that minister to you during this time of year!