Years ago, I was invited to a party with a church youth group. I was on the fence as to whether or not I wanted to go, but the youth leader insisted that I had to come and watch a movie, called The Princess Bride. Since I’m generally a skeptic about movie recommendations from others (both then and now), I wasn’t convinced at first. Still, he was able to persuade me to attend, and – starting that evening – The Princess Bride has become one of my favorite movies. (It has some talented cast, some of the most quotable lines in a fairly family-friendly movie, and none of the frilly princess stuff you might expect from its title.)
More recently, I had a chance to see the movie Hidden Figures. I hadn’t felt obliged to follow up on a recommendation from my wife’s aunt, nor was I determined to watch it based on comments by a colleague at work. However, when out on a date with my wife, we decided to try it out, despite the only remaining seats being in the front row. Even with massive neck cramps from looking straight up, we found it to be a remarkable film in a lot of ways. (In addition to the historical and timely messages that the film was presenting, I’m a big fan of the 1960’s space race, and I thought that the lady who taught herself how to program in FORTRAN was especially cool.)
The fact is, there are some pretty great experiences waiting for us to just try them out. Yet, in our skeptical and downright cynical world, we resist for a lot of reasons. Maybe a new opportunity just sounds weird, or we’re not sure of the reliability of the source. Maybe we’re just not into trying new things, or – if we’re honest – we’re a little fearful.
Still (excluding some suggestions from our friends that could be negatively life-altering), there are a lot of great chances that we miss out on if we don’t try out new things. In the book of John, a guy names Philip tries to convince a buddy named Nathanael to meet Jesus. Nathanael is reluctant at first, and even defends his reasoning: he doesn’t think that the promised Messiah could possibly come from the city of Nazareth (which wasn’t the most impressive town of that era).
“Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.
John 1:46 NLT
Philip points out to Nathanael the easiest way for him to make an informed decision: to come and see for himself. Nathanael is commendable in that he accepts Philip’s challenge. When Nathanael meets Jesus, he learned that Jesus had already seen where Nathanael was, even before Philip stopped by. Nathanael is impressed, but Jesus prophesies that there is more to come:
Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”
John 1:50 NLT
But, take a second look at this verse (above). What was Nathanael doing before brushing off Philip’s suggestion, with the idea that going to see someone from Nazareth wasn’t worth his time? He was under a fig tree! Maybe he was plying his trade, but maybe he was just sitting under the fig tree, resting in the shade. I don’t know whether or not he was doing anything useful, but if not, imagine the opportunity that Nathanael would have missed by not getting up out of his comfy spot to go see Jesus? Remaining under that fig tree could have caused him to never become one of the core disciples of Jesus’ ministry – His apostle.
Jesus offers us a similar offer, along with a promise that we won’t return empty-handed:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8 NLT
If you aren’t sure whether Jesus is who He said He is, you can accept this offer: Honestly ask Jesus if He exists. Genuinely seek for answers to life’s real issues from His teaching. Knock on the door of heaven, and ask to be introduced to the Creator of the universe by Jesus Himself.
If you’re up to finding out, I encourage you to read the teachings of Jesus directly. There are many who accurately share His message, but there are also those who mix it in with their own ideas, or just don’t know Jesus’ teachings well enough to communicate them accurately. So, get the message directly – without a middleman.
For the maximum amount of information about Jesus, within the shortest amount of space, there are four books of the Bible – sometimes called the “Gospels” – that talk about the life and message of Jesus. Start at the link below (or look up Matthew 1 in your own Bible), and keep reading through the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John:
(The first 17 verses of this first chapter might be a big confusing if you start here, but you’re probably going to recognize some familiar content starting in verse 18.)
However, this must be a sincere search, rather than a hypocritical one. Don’t seek truth sarcastically, or pretend that you are looking for answers when you really don’t want to know the truth (especially if it doesn’t match your preconceptions). Go into this with an open mind, and honestly look. If you search fairly, I’m confident that God will show you the truth, and can help you build upon the kind of faith that is described in the verse below.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NLT
If you have any questions about your search, feel free to let me know. I don’t have all of the answers either, but am happy to share what I have learned from Jesus (and hopefully to learn from what you have found, as well).
- Don’t Take My Word for It – Look Around You
- Trust Fall
- The Gospel in 3 Verses
- Grace, Faith, Works
- Never Alone