When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” – John 1:38-39a (NRSV)
Recently I received an invitation to follow Jesus from two men flanking the pathway as I tried to enter my local basketball arena. Their invitation was grounded in bullying—shouting that I would soon be hell-bound—and shame—reminding me that I’m nothing but a festering pile of sin. Even though I will follow Jesus just about anywhere, my reaction was to put as much distance between my body and theirs as quickly as I could.
When we’re looking for how to word our invitations, maybe we should go back to Jesus’ invitation to the first two disciples: “Come and see.” This short and sweet phrase invites curiosity and wonder, listening and learning. It doesn’t condemn. It doesn’t frighten. It doesn’t come with a litany of requirements or a laundry list of expectations. It’s an invitation that implicitly says, “Come as you are and see who I am.”
“Come and see” is an invitation designed to keep drawing us in, leading us deeper into understanding and faith. It prompts us to ponder where we might see Jesus in all sorts of situations: on a bus full of migrants, in a judiciary hearing, even where we might see Jesus in the midst of an uncomfortable interaction on the way to a basketball game.
When our invitations to discipleship come with barriers or berating, chances are no one else is going to show up to the party. By inviting each other to “come and see,” we discover Jesus in the joy of connection, in the revelation of love, and in life shared together following Christ.
I am RSVPing to the invitation to come and see. Please add my name to the guest list.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.