As Jesus begins his public life, first dozens, then scores, then hundreds of people come to see him. Most listen and walk away. They have other priorities. But John gets the whole picture from the get-go. He instantly recognizes that Christ has been sent by the Father to atone for sin. And so he proclaims Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice… the Lamb of God.
John sees what others do not because he has spent a lifetime waiting for Jesus. He is ready at all times for Christ to enter his life. And this focus on Christ isn’t idle curiosity. It isn’t a measured expression of orthodox religious observation. Waiting on Christ has been John’s entire life’s purpose. God has called him to announce the coming of the Messiah. And in Jesus he has answered the call.
How about us? Are we open to Christ entering our lives… to live in us… to set our hearts on fire? Do we answer his call… or do we even hear it? Are we looking for Jesus or would we pass him in the parking lot? Is Jesus the focus of our lives or do we just have too many important things to get to first?
2015 is still new. And it’s a good time for resolutions – particularly for examining and adjusting our priorities. Here’s one that should be on the very top of the list. Like John, let’s leave ourselves open to Jesus. Let’s invite him into our lives each day. Let’s look for him in the commonplace and the unusual. Let’s engage Jesus in a running conversation of prayer as our day progresses. Wake up with him. Read his word every day. Listen to him with your heart. Ask his help. Give him thanks. Anticipate what he wants us to do. Take every opportunity to share him.
Woody Allen had it right when he famously said that 80% of success in life is just showing up. For our lives to be successful… for us to serve God’s purpose… we must show up for Jesus. We must be present for him. We must be open to him.
If your heart isn’t there yet, coax it along. Consciously commit to living an active life in Christ. Take the first step. Over and over ask Jesus to open your heart. As Paul tells us: I can do all things through God who strengthens us.
Can’t find Jesus? You’re looking in the wrong places. Open your heart to the annoying, the troubled, outcast, the forgotten, the lonely, the sick and the poor. Open your heart to Jesus, he’s waiting there in all of them. Open your heart and your hands and your feet will follow.
With Jesus every chore can become a prayer. Every encounter can be an opportunity to love and be loved. Sometimes his love will seep in. At other times it will flood in. Living in Jesus means living in love. You’ll get it. You’ll give it. You’ll rejoice in it. And in time, Jesus will gather you home in his love. That is far more than Woody Allen’s 80% chance at success. Living in Christ… following him to the Father… that is a 100%, guaranteed, ticket to success. And it all begins by showing up… by opening your heart to Jesus.
John opened his heart… so did Andrew… so did Peter… so did all the disciples. They all followed Jesus to glory. But it never would have happened if, first, they did not dare to open their hearts. It’s that simple. Let’s dare to be disciples. Let’s dare to open our hearts today. Let’s empty ourselves and make room for his love.
This prayer can help get us started: Dear Jesus, open my heart to you. I am yours. You are my Savior, The Lamb of God. Come live in me, so that I can live forever in your love. You know my frailties and my foolish pride. You know my doubts and my fears. Change my life so that it reflects your love in all I think and all I do. Make me your disciple, Jesus. Help me always to witness your love in word and deed. Then when you’re ready, lead me home, Lord, one loving step at a time. With you, my heart is open, Jesus. Take me. I am yours.
The Reverend David Sellery, Episcopal Priest, Author, and Coach. Fr. Sellery presently serves as Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Salisbury, CT. Fr. Sellery has excelled at using new media to increase outreach beyond the Church doors via his website, blog posts, and podcasts.
Heart symbol from Wikimedia Commons Public Domain