Have you ever had that friend who completely overstayed their welcome?
You might even try to drop some subtle hints. A yawn. A comment like “man, is it really 11:30?” Of course, they never get it. Four hours later, your heart leaps for joy as your friend gets up to go, but then you realize they are just going to the bathroom. It’s at that point you make a mental note to never hang out with that friend again.
I find myself frustrated when people invade my space for an extended period of time. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at manufacturing ways to subtly, gently, slowly, surely push people away. Don’t judge! I’m assuming you’ve done your share of people-dodging too!
However, I am so glad Jesus is nothing like me! He loves us without fail because He is love, and He invites us to come and see what he’s doing any time, any place, 24/7.
(John 1:37-39 NLT) As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus. Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
This isn’t a big story about miracles, or overcoming adversity, or claiming victory over the devil. It’s a simple story about a couple of dudes refusing to leave Jesus alone. But look a little closer, because I believe that this story carries the entire basis of our faith walk.
The disciples ask “Where are you going?” Jesus says “Come and see.” As it turns out, the “where” is the least important part of the story! That detail doesn’t even make it into the book. What matters is, they remain with Jesus the rest of the day. That’s what the story is really about.
I think this account of Jesus and his disciples is a reminder to us that the importance of where we go is secondary to the importance of who we remain with. Jesus won’t hold our lives until He first holds our attention. Here are six practical checkups for remaining with Him.
R – Really believe in Jesus.
There’s a definite difference between liking the concept of Jesus and really believing in Him. Concept fans will admit “There is the Lamb of God!” but true believers will actually follow Him. Remaining with Jesus is believing in Him enough to let Him to change the scenery of your life.
E – Exit YOUR comfort zone.
Remaining often requires a disconnection from comfort and an embrace of aches and pains. John’s disciples chose to trade what they were used to (following John) for what they were made for (following Jesus). It was, and still is, a ridiculously good trade, but you’ll only see that when you have the courage to cross over.
M – Meet Jesus where He is.
Jesus passed by the disciples, but they had to follow, and engage, to remain. All healthy relationships need engagement on both sides, and our relationship with Jesus is no exception. Instead of praying exclusively for what we care about, we can engage Jesus, and remain with Him, by asking what He cares about.
A – Answer the question, “What do you want?”
Happiness? Blessing? Success? We can all agree those are nice, but Jesus is not just a means to those pleasant ends. Jesus is Jesus, the beginning and the end. He may lead you to lots of happiness, blessing, and success … and then He may lead you away. When He says “come and see,” He promises nothing but Himself. If that’s not enough for you, you might be following something other than Jesus.
I – Intentionally miss what others run to.
Remaining means patience and consistency through pain and uncertainty. It means navigating through a murky and unpleasant spiritual jungle. It also means simply choosing Jesus over the many other ways you might spend the rest of your day. What are you willing to miss in order to remain with Him a little longer?
N – Need NOTHING more than Jesus with you.
Eventually Jesus was crucified outside the city walls, where they kept the garbage. They didn’t want Him to die in the city; that was disgusting. Instead Jesus went to the dump. It was in the garbage that He was willing to remain, and die, so that He might resurrect and complete His work of redeeming us. Are we willing to remain with Him too, even in the middle of our own garbage? Is His presence truly all we’re interested in?
(John 15:5) Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Speculating on WHERE our lives are headed can be fun, but like those disciples, we don’t really need that answer. All we really need is to know WHO we are going there with.
Come and see. Remain. That’s what our story has always been about.