We all know what it’s like to be lost. Whether we get lost trying to find someone’s house or trying to follow directions or while on vacation or in some unfamiliar place, you know what it feels like to be lost and the sense of uncertainty and even anxiety that comes with it. And sometimes, when we’re lost, we can convince ourselves that we’re not really lost and that we know exactly where we’re going.
We live in a world in which we’re surrounded by people who are lost, in desperate need of spiritual direction and probably unaware that they are heading in the wrong direction. So, often as the Church, we forget that our job as followers of Jesus is to help people find direction and to help them find their way home, their eternal home that is.
In the Gospel of John chapter 14, we find a teaching of Jesus, which is relevant for us today, living in these uncertain and unprecedented times. In John 14:1-2 Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
These are comforting words for those of us who have surrendered our lives to Jesus and are living for him and yet they also create one great assumption, that we all have made at one time or another, that is that all people know about the place Jesus is referring to. Perhaps you can make case to explain why all people should know, but the reality for many people in this culture, is that it’s difficult to know the way to the destination when you can’t even find the road.
Too often we make assumptions about what people already know or how they might respond. We assume someone already knows about how to be right with God and be forgiven or whether someone has been to church before or whether they would accept an invitation to a church service or whether someone would be open to a conversation about spiritual things. We often make great assumptions about the spiritual health of people, forgetting that we have been put in their lives to lead them closer to God and to help them find their way home. Making assumptions is a dangerous thing and we all know what often happens when we make assumptions.
There was a guy who was walking down the street one day, when he noticed a man struggling with a washing machine at the doorway of his house. When the guy stopped and offered help, the homeowner was overjoyed and the two men together, began to work and struggle with the bulky appliance. After several minutes of fruitless effort, the two stopped and just stared at each other in exhaustion, looking as if they were on the verge of total frustration. Finally, when they had caught their breath, the guy said to the homeowner, “We’ll never get this washing machine in there!” To which the homeowner replied, “In?” I’m trying to move it out of here!”
When we make assumptions, often we become ineffective and counterproductive, but it also leads us to neglect the one burning question that deep down many people have. John 14:5, “Thomas said, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’”
Thomas was confused by life and seems to be thinking that the mysteries of life are unsolvable. The truth is, we are surrounded by people like Thomas, confused, worn down by life and in desperate need of someone to come along side of them and lovingly show them the way home. People who need to know that the ultimate foundation for a satisfying and fulfulling life is not found in some sort of secret recipe or magic potion, but a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In John 14:6, “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
With all that is going on in the world today, there are countless reasons to be fearful and filled with anxiety, but in the midst of the darkness and the chaos, the mission of the Church is to offer a better story, a story of God whose master plan is so great that it makes any fearsome thing look inconsequential.
Let us recognize the opportunity that exists around us, in the midst of the mess. May we diligently go about the mission of the Church, sharing eternal hope, offering Biblical direction and helping people find their way to their Heavenly home.