Read John 1:35-39.
“What are you seeking?” (John 1:38)
Why Don’t I Feel Joy?
So you’re a Christian. And you’re wondering why you feel the way you do. I mean, you read about, and hear about joy, and fulfillment, and an abundant rich life in Christ, but, that’s not what you feel. That simply has not been your experience. Maybe you feel anxiety, frustration, or even depression, and you’re wondering why.
This blog post answers that question, and offers you a chance to change everything.
God’s Radical Commitment To Your Free Will
These are the first words spoken by Jesus as recorded in John’s account of Jesus’ life, and, the first words spoken by Jesus in his public ministry: “What are you seeking?” And it seems to me that’s always where God starts. God is remarkably considerate. He always desires to know, what we want. And He’s always inclined to let us do whatever that is.
I’m amazed at how radical God is when it comes to our free will. We see it in the Old Testament when we consider what was not illegal in the civic code given to the nation of Israel by God. Prostitution is not illegal. Polygamy is not illegal. I’m not saying those things are good, I’m just saying God allowed them (though he warned of consequences in Proverbs 23:27 and 29:3).
God’s commitment to your free will is seen in those first words of Jesus recorded in John’s book, “What are you seeking?” Jesus asked questions like this all the time.
“What do you want me to do for you?” He asked the blind man sitting by the road. (Luke 18:38-41)
“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the invalid at the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:6)
“Shall I come to heal him?” Jesus asked the centurion with the paralyzed servant. (Matthew 8:7)
“Will you give me a drink?” Jesus asked the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:7)
He asked. He asked people what it was that they wanted, or even if they wanted. He left the choice up to them. So you can be sure that, although I’m about to share the one thing that changed everything for me as a Christian, whether or not you do it too is entirely up to you. God will provide for you complete freedom concerning this choice.
The One Thing
The one thing that changes everything is found in the answer to Jesus’ question, “What are you seeking?” The secret to the abundant life that Jesus talked about in John 10:10 is found in how two of John the Baptist’s disciples responded to that question.
John the Baptist was standing with these two disciples when he saw Jesus walking by. And John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” And when the two disciples heard his words, they left John the Baptist and followed Jesus.
It was when Jesus saw them following him that he said his first recorded words in the book of John: “What are you seeking?”
And the disciples’ answer is one of the most important scriptures in the entire Bible. “Teacher, where are you staying?”
In other words, what the disciples were seeking was Jesus himself.
“Where are you staying? We ask so we can follow and stay there with you.”
“Where are you staying? We ask so we can go there and be in your presence.”
“Where are you staying? We ask because, what we seek is you.”
There was a huge turning point in my life as a Christian when what I was seeking became Jesus himself. I spent decades seeking other things first: success for my kids, success for myself at work, success in basketball and tennis, success for my wife, and financial success.
Yes, I wanted Jesus, as long as it didn’t interfere with these other very important (to me) areas of my life. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was trying to make a deal with God. “Give me what I want in these areas Lord, because after all, I know You love me, and I know You’re generous. So give me these things, and I will follow You.”
Paradoxically, it wasn’t until He took away my health, and much of my success along with it, that I began to seek Him primarily. It didn’t happen right at first. In the beginning when He took away capability, I sought Him because I wanted Him to solve my problems. But as I invested time with Him, in His word, and in prayer I eventually came to the place where I surrendered myself to Him. And our relationship transformed until He became the main object of my life. Not that I don’t lose sight of Him too often, because I do. But at least now I’m intentional about making Him my ultimate.
This transition reminds me of when Gabe (my first child) was born. Until he came along I didn’t know one human being could love another human being that much. And then Nate was born and the same feelings overwhelmed me again. Suddenly my life was more enriched and fulfilling than ever before. And just as suddenly, I wanted to become a better man. Not for myself, but for Gabe, and for Nate. All that’s great except for one problem. I didn’t completely realize it at the time, but I put them in a higher place than God Himself.
But over the last few years, as I intentionally follow Jesus, I’m beginning to love Him in a similar way to how I loved my young sons. And loving Him this way changes everything. I’m convinced it’s the secret to living the abundant life Jesus said He came to provide us. When God is your ultimate, if something else is taken away, your happiness isn’t dependent on it. You’re bullet proof when God is your ultimate because no one can take God away from you. The effect is dramatic. The pressure of life is lifted. You can finally breathe. You can live without fear of results because the main object of your love and passion is untouchable.
When your relationship with the primary Person in your life is untouchable, you experience an amazing peace, a peace that passes understanding. A peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mind when Jesus is primary in your heart and your mind.
Truly putting Him first, I mean really truly putting Him first:
It changes everything.
The Choice Is Yours
What are you seeking?
I’m asking you to do what those two disciples did. I’m asking you to follow Jesus and to stay where He stays. I’m asking you to seek His presence. I’m asking you to seek Jesus. I’m asking you to truly and completely make Him ultimate in your heart, and in your soul, and in your mind.
When the two disciples said, “Where are you staying?” Jesus responded: “Come and see.”
That’s what I’m asking you to do. Don’t take my word for it, but come and see. Come to Jesus in this way and see. Come to Jesus in this way and see what happens.
See if it doesn’t change everything.
[Image via Will Foster – Creative Commons]
Wow, what a great post Kurt! From your headline which totally made me curious about your article, to the subheadings that drew me in , this was a greatly written article.
I loved how you told your story of what it took for you to come to Christ. Sometimes God takes things that are close to our hearts so we can change our hearts towards Him.
I’ve been reading this book called The Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan Dodson. It also got me to start thinking about how Jesus asked people so many questions to make a point. I think I’m gonna start doing that more with people.
Nice post my friend 😄
Thanks for your comment Peter, and for sharing about Dodson’s book. Sounds like something I could really benefit from. You’re always sharing something helpful and edifying. God’s best blessings on you, and on all your work for His kingdom!