It is said that if you give a person a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. It’s one thing to teach, it is an entirely different thing to have an attitude that wants to learn. We spend our school years learning all sorts of things, but I wonder how much of that we retain as adults. Yet as adults, when we find something we are passionate about, something that truly interests us, we seem to be keen learners. In fact, the university sector bemoans school leavers, because they are yet to fully work out what they are passionate about, so the drop out rate is much higher than mature learners who demonstrate a passion and commitment to learn things they are genuinely interested in.
Christians are much the same. It is not until they truly experience the wonder of God’s grace, and the Spirit moving in their life, that they then become true learners of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is fascinating watching the difference between life-long Christians and new Christians. Those who have grown up in the church, seem to act as if they’ve done their time and learnt all they need to know. New Christians suddenly see Jesus in an amazing way, are passionate and hungry to know more. They are inquisitive, curious, keen to learn and experience more of what they see in Jesus. And they’re fascinated with how life-long Christians live out their faith. They watch, ask questions, and try to make sense of what they see and experience. They want to know how Christians live, and what a difference it will make in their lives. They become learners of people.
There is a fascinating introduction to how Jesus is a keen learner of people in John 1. He he by the Jordan where John the Baptist is ministering, when John declares Jesus to be the messiah. Suddenly 2 disciples leave John to follow Jesus, who invites them into hs life. Andrew then introduces his brother Simon Peter to Jesus who knows who he is and renames him Cephas (Peter). The next day Jesus seeks out Philip, who then finds Nathaniel and invites him to come and see Jesus. Nathaniel comes, but Jesus already knows him. He saw him, sitting under a tree pondering life and reflecting on what it is to be truly one who belongs to God. The whole passage is a story about Jesus who knows intimately the people who follow him.
Jesus does the same with us. He knows everything there is to know, all the deep darkest secrets we have tried to hide even from ourselves. Yet, despite this, He call us to follow him. To sit at his feet and learn from him. To be like Andrew and Philip and invite others into that same space. Both disciples didn’t seek out strangers off the street, they went to people they already knew and invited them to join them. They knew the people they invited. They were students in a fashion of those around them. It was because of this understanding and friendship they had developed with others, Andrew with his brother Simon, and Philip with his friend Nathanial, that opened the doors to invite them to see Jesus for themselves.
We are called to be a blessing to others. But we can only be that when we become people who intentionally seek out others and learn about them. It is a tall order to speak with strangers, but the more we get to know another person, the more we can introduce them to Jesus in a way that resonates with their life journey. Isn’t that what friends do? They spend time together, listening to each other, learning more about each other, and looking for ways to bless each other. There is no greater blessing than introducing them to Jesus. Andrew and Philip found that to be true. They both invited people they knew into the space where Jesus was, and Jesus touched their lives in ways that only Jesus, who knows them already, can. We are called not just to know as much as we can about Jesus, but to know others as best we can so we too can say to them, “come and see”.