Who do we trust?

Choosing God’s Wilderness!
January 4, 2024
Stand at the crossroads, where the good way lies….
January 25, 2024
Choosing God’s Wilderness!
January 4, 2024
Stand at the crossroads, where the good way lies….
January 25, 2024

I’ve been listening to other people’s conversations in recent days as I think about how Jesus’ circle of disciples came into being, as it is described in John’s gospel.  There’s a sense of it being unplanned, relational, very human and unexpected for all the individuals concerned.  God worked in and through the relationships and their discipleship grew and became real and permanent.   We too are brought into discipleship and sustained in and through our relationships, our sense of belonging to the church community.

What I am interested in is how our web of relationships, our formal and informal networks upon which we rely to give us recommendations, confirm opinions, and help us with advice and affirm our decisions, actually shape our decisions and thinking.  Whether its who to use to check our air conditioning, or which is the best restaurant, or even how we express our political and spiritual views, we generally rely on our trusted friends or respected authorities to steer us in the ‘right’ direction.   Our willingness to let go of deeply help opinions in order to take on a new idea can also depend on who is with us and how much we trust them. 

However, one of the things I find quite frightening, is when individuals are absolutely adamant about the rightness of their opinion particularly about God’s opinions, that absolutely nothing can shake it.  It is such people who end up killing others because they cannot imagine a different answer, another opinion, the possibility they might be wrong.

The story which John’s gospel offers us about the initial gathering of disciples around Jesus is built on this web of relationships, this network of contacts and people who know one another.  In John 1:35-43, there is a description of John the Baptist’s acknowledgement and declaration of Jesus, his cousin, being the ‘Lamb of God’ (v.36).  Two of his disciples hear John say this, and they follow and catch up with Jesus and ask him if they can come and talk.  Jesus says to them, ‘come and see’. (v. 39)

One of the two who followed Jesus who had been one of John’s disciples, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  Andrew is so convinced about Jesus, that he takes Simon to Jesus and introduces him, and Jesus in response, renames him ‘Cephas’, which is translated as Peter. (v. 42).  We begin to see the circle of friends around Jesus is gathering and growing.   Jesus then encounters Philip in Galilee and invites him to ‘follow me’ (v.43).  Philip is from the same town as Andrew and Peter, from Bethsaida.  They’re neighbours. 

Philip then meets Nathanael, and tells him about Jesus.  Philip says he is the one ‘about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ (v.45).  Just like Jesus with John the Baptist’s two disciples who come enquiring of him about John’s recommendation, Philip also says to Nathanael, ‘come and see’.(v.46)

Then finally Nathanael and Jesus meet, and Nathanael also joins the group of followers after having a curious conversation, listening, and being persuaded by what he hears, and he finally declares Jesus to be ‘the Son of God!  Nathanael is clear.   He says directly: ‘You are the King of Israel.’ (v.49).  He has changed his mind and like the others, his life also changes forever.

The band of disciples have grown out of shared relationships, understanding and being ready to take on something new and different and to believe what they come and see.

Can you remember the last time you had your opinion changed by what you see and heard, on something really important?  Something life-changing?  Have you thought about how it happened.  More often than not, it is based on our relationships and capacity or willingness to trust.

Nathanael’s initial response to Philip was to resist the idea anyone of any importance could come from such a small place as Nazareth, which wasn’t even mentioned in the law or by the prophets.  It seemed nobody of importance was familiar or even knew Jesus, according to Nathanael’s question. 

When we think like this, we are making public opinion the judge of truth and the creator of what is acceptable or believable for us.  Belief based on public opinion leads to bandwagon mentality.  If everyone else is for it, or at least all my friends think this way, it is easier to jump onto the bandwagon and go with the flow, and so belong.  Yet this devotion to public opinion means we also have to jump off when the bandwagon comes to a stop, when others feel the ride is over and we realise our belief is no longer valid.    Such behaviour shows how we give up our own judgement, substituting another testimony for our own thinking, and so we miss opportunities for a real encounter with God.

I think about how we can be taken for a ride as well.  The debates and lack of trust, opinions formed without checking out all the facts, the push back when someone questions us, our defensiveness and resistance which in an instant, become certain, concrete and solid.  In such circumstances when faced with such opposition, I feel a little bit like I’m trying to surf, (which I don’t know how to do), trying to stay ahead of the wave and fearful of getting dumped because I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.  In reality, I don’t need to be doing any of this.  I don’t need to try and belong or share others’ opinions, I need simply to belong to God and share with God instead.

John the Baptist’s words were trusted enough to send some of his disciples to follow Jesus.   Jesus’ disciples were trusted enough by their friends so they listened, and then decided to come and see.  In all of this, they listened, learned, searched and found; they were prepared and open to something new, to finding God in the oddest of places and trusting the outcome with God.

Next time you are confronted with the need to change your opinion because new information and facts have emerged and you need to let go the old belief or opinion, be reassured: in following God others will be walking with you in God’s company.  You will not be alone, however lonely it might feel as you step out in faith and go to places where others will not because it is too radical and different to the rest of the world.  Be reassured.  Come and see.  God is the Messiah. God’s Son is living among us.


The Lord be with you.   

Lucy Morris
Lucy Morris
Anglican Priest, International Speaker, Published Author, Social Justice Advocate and Activist.

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