bits from bob....
[My friend, Tony Lalli, used an interesting title in a bulletin article: "Helping the Seekers and Seeking the Helpless." This article builds on his thoughts.]
John’s gospel is filled with seekers—we often overlook how helpless they are without Jesus. Isn’t Nathanael seeking something when he accepts the invitation of Philip to “come and see”? (John 1) When Jesus and his disciples are invited to a marriage feast, Jesus' mother seeks him to help when the wine supply runs out (John 2). Nicodemus, a Pharisee, seeks Jesus by night, believing Jesus can help him understand what is happening in Jesus’ ministry (John 3). The Samaritan woman asks Jesus for living water (John 4). A nobleman wants Jesus to heal his son (John 4). A crippled man at a pool seeks Jesus’ help because he has no one to help him (John 5).
Jesus constantly encounters helpless people. We too are surrounded by helpless people. Matthew provides an insight into Jesus’ compassion when he remembers that Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd—helpless, hopeless, homeless, and hapless. Helpless people are hopeless people—unless they find help.
Jesus came seeking the helpless and helping the seekers. Jesus came seeking the lost. Jesus came helping those who sought him. Jesus’ contact with the seekers usually began in some physical need. That Jesus could meet deeper, spiritual needs came later.
Seekers. Many seekers are “baby believers.” Often faith is not fully developed in their lives, but they have begun the faith journey. Can you recognize people with developing faith? Can you see a seeker when the search has just begun? Sometimes it is obvious—people ask for help. Some people who ask for help don’t know they are seeking Jesus—they just want food. They follow for the loaves and the fishes, as those we read about in John 6. Some people have needs and ask for help. Some people have needs and visit our worship assemblies or other activities and never express their real needs. Seekers are all around us—you talk to them at Wal-Mart, on the street, on the job, at school, at the restaurant, in your neighborhood. Some are lost and do not know it. Some are lost and do know it. Many want help and do not know how to ask for it. They want us to notice that they are seeking.
Helpless. Do you know any helpless people? People overwhelmed by life? People without resources? People who have run out of hope because they have run out of cope? They know there must be a better way, but they don’t know where to find it, don’t know where to look. Many of the helpless in our culture have little or no religious background or experience. They have heard about Jesus and the Bible but know little or nothing about either. They don’t know the possibilities.
We have opportunities every week to interact with folks who are seekers, helpless, or both. Jesus calls us to be helpers of those who seek and seekers of those who need help. The more Jesus sought people, the more there were who sought Jesus. The more Jesus helped the helpless, the more helpless there were surrounding him. When our community and our world know that we are seeking helpless folks, more helpless folks will seek the help we offer through Jesus. The first thing people notice isn't how much we know; the first thing they notice is how much we care.
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