I used to listen to a John Denver song written by John Prine. The title of the song is "Blow Up Your TV" and the chorus has the lyrics ... "have a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, go find Jesus ... on your own." I don't profess that this song had any theological statement from its writers but I do like the last line ... 'go find Jesus, on your own.' While most of us, of course, need a little help finding Jesus, the truth is each person has the calling, drawing by prevenient grace and ultimate responsibility to find God ... truly in Jesus Christ. This brings up a passage that is troubling to some and solid as stone to others. It is a hard teaching ... "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the father except through me" (John 14:6). This passage is crystal clear, spoken by Jesus and is, in my opinion, the greatest of the 'I AM' statements in John. It is reminiscent of Moses' last sermon to the Hebrews who are preparing to cross into the promised land, " Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life ... " (Deuteronomy 30:20).
So ... how do we find Jesus 'on our own?' I think there are at least 3 keys to finding Jesus. The first is to know He is seeking you and drawing you to him. Wesleyan's (of whom Methodists are a subset) describe God's grace (prevenient grace) as drawing all people to Him. John 12:32 describes this ... "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." The first key is to realize God wants you to come to him. God said, through Moses, "you have seen how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself." I love that profound and direct purpose passage that reminds us God is inviting all people to come. So watch ... listen ... see through God's eyes.
The second thing is really closely tied to the first thing. To grow in knowledge of what God's calling and God's invitation looks like, it is important to know what God is like. While Jeremiah tells us God has imprinted us with knowledge of Him ("I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33)) knowing God is a lifelong process. John Wesley would say that we are people of one book ... Scripture contained in the Holy Bible. We read. We struggle with God's Word. We learn through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We seek and Jesus says we will find (Matthew 7:7).
The third thing relates to that "on your own" thing. I hear all the excuses. "The church is a bunch of hypocrites!" My friend Arita responds to this by reminding them 'there is always room for one more.' We can let this and all of the other excuses keep us from being part of God's plan, God's path and God's Church. But the responsibility for finding Jesus and His path to God is mine and only mine. When Moses said (the earlier passage, Deuteronomy 30:20) 'the Lord is your life' he presented this as a choice of life or death, blessings and curses. He tells his people they must make this choice on their own. He has, by God's grace, brought them to the threshold of the land God had promised. Now, if they are to prosper in that land, they must decide whom they will serve. It is the same for us. I invite you to join this group of people who have chosen God. We are hypocrites, sinners, doubters and inadequate followers. But for some reason God seeks us so we want to know more. We shoulder the yoke of Christ whose burden is light and easy. And we find Him in the most interesting places. Come and see! Randy