Everyone, at some point in time, has pursued something for the wrong reason. Whether it was chasing after mister or miss popularity in high school or buttering up the boss at the office, people can be driven by ulterior selfish motives. For example, some people will pretend to be someone’s friend only to the extent of what the “so-called” friendship offers them. This behavior seems prevalent in the corporate world and, without a doubt, in the political arena. However, would it surprise you to know some people pursue that same “what’s in it for them” type of relationship with God?
In the book of John, we read,” Again the next day, John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, ‘What do you seek?‘ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?'” (John 1:35-38)
One of the most simple yet penetrating questions we find in the Bible is ‘What do you seek?’ and it is one that every believer, both new and old, should ask themselves from time-to-time. The two disciples whom Jesus had asked were Andrew and John, who was the son of Zebedee and brother of James. No doubt Jesus’s question caught them off guard because their answer was not an answer, but a question.
In all fairness, I suspect that if Jesus were to look us in the eye and ask that question, we might just as well be tongue-tied and off-balance as Andrew and John. Now, you might be wondering why Jesus would ask such a question. To satisfy that curiosity, let’s pull an example from the pages of Scripture about the Pharisees, the so-called religious leaders of that time. They were straightforward and often threatening about keeping the people in line with the law, but not so much for themselves.
One example is the buying and selling that took place in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. You see, people would come to offer their animal sacrifices that were without blemish or defect to the Lord. However, as they entered the temple, they were told their animals did not meet the standards for sacrifice, which was false. What a coincidence that the Pharisees had animals on-the-spot ready and available for purchase, and I would say it is safe to assume those animals were ones rejected only hours before.
Here we see a lust for money by the religious leaders who used God’s house to promote and conduct business for personal financial gain. That begs the question: Are there such people in the church today? Absolutely! Some people use the church merely as a social outreach where they can seek out and build their business clientele. It is even fair to say that some ministries seek only to take from their local community, not to serve or give back to it.
Jesus cut to the heart of the matter in the temple by overturning tables and releasing all the animals; He knew the dishonesty taking place behind the Pharisee’s pious faces. Just as Jesus knew then, so He also knows today the hearts of those who practice deceit. In speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus said, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy you: ‘These people say they honor Me, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is worthless, for they teach their man-made laws instead of those from God‘” (Is. 15:7-9/TLB).
It is quite natural for us to sit back, point fingers, and attempt to single out those among us who seem to be pursuing selfish self-satisfying interests in the church. From our vantage point, it appears such people do not have a relationship with God. But wait! Do you see where this is leading? Do you see how easy it is for us to set up shop and judge others instead of focusing on our relationship with God?
I admit I led us down that path. Still, it was needed to convey my point that our motives and actions can sometimes be skewed by how we allow ourselves to judge others and make determinations without any or all the facts in place. There are times when the church should question certain behaviors, but only within the doctrine of church discipline given in the book of Matthew, but the overall point here is only God will judge.
When it came to Andrew and John, Jesus did not ask Andrew what John was seeking, nor did He ask John the same about Andrew. No, Jesus asked each of them, “What do you seek?” The very nature of Jesus’s question prompts us to redirect our attention to look inward, to question our motives and intent. When we do so, we can refocus our desires and, above all, seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
Therefore, be encouraged to take the time to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What do you seek?” The best thing that will happen is you receive affirmation that you are indeed walking the narrow path of which Jesus spoke, or you recognize some areas that need a little work. Either way, you will be drawing yourself closer to God, and best of all, He will be drawing closer to you.
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