Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Week's Focus: Dare to Open Your Heart

 Available as ITunes Audio Podcast

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." John 1:43-51

Dear Friends,

As Jesus begins his public life, first dozens, then scores, then hundreds of people came to see him. Most listened and walked away. They had other priorities. But John got the whole picture at first sight. Like Andrew, John recognizes the Messiah. But he sees much more. He knows immediately that Jesus was sent by the Father to atone for sin. He proclaims Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God.

How did John see what others didn’t? He had spent his whole life waiting for Jesus. He was open at all times for Christ to enter his life. How about us? Are we open for Christ to enter our lives? Would we even recognize Jesus? Or would we pass him in the parking lot? Do we have just too many other priorities?

2012 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 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. Listen to him. Ask his help. Give him thanks. Anticipate what he wants us to do. At every opportunity share him with the people in our lives.

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. Open your heart to Jesus, your hands and your feet will follow. With Jesus every daily chore can become a prayer. Then get ready to be loved. Sometimes his love will seep in. 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. In time, Jesus will gather you home in his love.

John opened his heart, so did Andrew and so did Peter. They all followed Jesus to glory. But it never would have happened if they didn’t dare to open their hearts. 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 in you. You know my frailties and my foolish pride. Change my life so that it reflects your love in all I think and all I do. Lead me home, Lord, one loving step at a time.

Faithfully yours in Christ’s love,

He, Qi. Calling Disciples, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved January 9, 2012]

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