Variety is the Spice of (Eternal) Life


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 96; 147:1-11, Judges 7:19-8:12, Acts 3:12-26, John 1:29-42

According to John’s gospel, the first two disciples of Jesus were originally disciples of John the Baptist. One Jesus walked by the three of them, and John declared him the Lamb of God. The two disciples began to literally follow him, until he turned around and asked what they were looking for. Then they followed him home. One of them (Andrew) found his brother Simon to tell him they’d found the Messiah. When they met, Jesus told Simon his new name was Cephas (Aramaic for Rock, the same meaning as Peter).

Don’t Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell a much more interesting version of this story? In that one, Jesus goes down to the docks, starts recruiting, and promises to make any who follow him “fishers of men” – a sales pitch so good people drop their nets and follow him immediately.

In both versions, whether guided by a teacher or invited directly, Jesus’s disciples feel immediately drawn to follow him. In a way, these two paths reflect different ways we come to know Christ: we can be born into a faith passed on to us, or Jesus can come bursting into our lives from seemingly nowhere. Neither way is more correct than the other, but one makes a more exciting story. While this was not the point John’s gospel was trying to make, it may help us be more open to the variety of faith journeys we encounter.

If we have been born into a faith, dramatic conversion stories may seem more compelling than our own lifelong belief. We should let their enthusiasm reinvigorate our own faith and challenge us to look at it as if it were new to us. If we are converts, we have recently given much thought to what we believe and why, like immigrants who’ve studied to become citizens. Though it may seem others haven’t worked quite as hard for the privilege, we can rely on the grounded experience of lifelong citizens of faith to inform us of the rich traditions we share. No matter how we’ve come to know Christ, we have gifts to share.

Comfort: Whether your faith is new or lifelong, you are an equal member of the Body of Christ.

Challenge: Share your faith journey with someone, and invite them to share theirs with you.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you for providing many roads to relationship with you. Amen.

Discussion: Have you found anyone’s faith journey particularly inspiring?

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