Christ-Like Answers to Annoying Questions

I have a neighbor who is obsessed with the size of my house. Every time we visit it comes up. At first I thought it was just me observing something weird, maybe imagined, but then she said something to my husband and his head is on straighter than mine, so I knew it really was an obsession. Case in point: Last week we saw her at a local antique shop. "Filling up your big house?" she asked. I didn't know how to reply, so I told her the boring truth. We were there because some visiting family members had wanted to stop by.

So I started obsessing about the whole thing, making up dialogue and back-stories. I wondered if, perhaps, she grew up in a tiny house like my grandmother - four girls sharing the same double bed, wearing hand-me-downs, working for the Woman in the Big House (like mine). I started thinking, "No matter her history, her present house is no smaller than mine; I've seen it. It may be even be larger."

But this isn't about square footage, or even personal history. This is about me obsessing about her obsession, me formulating some caustic response, telling her not to identify me with my house. "I have to go now," I imagined telling her. "I have to spend time thinking about my enormous house." Or, best yet, "Our big house is full, but our monstrous empty new cottage up north is in great need of expensive antique furniture." "That'll get her," I thought. "That'll make her shut up about something that's none of her business." (My sin nature is very evident in my inner monologue.)

I did not go so far as writing about this in my journal (I think . . . ), but I did ruminate on it, probably more than I should. Then, yesterday, during my preparation for a small group I'm in, I had an epiphany.

My small group is working through Companions in Christ: The Way of Grace , a study of Christ's interaction with several characters in John. Yesterday the text was John 1:35-50, and Companions in Christ had little discussion on Jesus' question for John's disciples when they pointed him out. The TNIV version says that Jesus asked them, ?What do you want?" but other translations read, "What are you looking for?" In Companions in Christ, it is noted that this question is "A simple query on the surface. But Jesus' words in John's Gospel rarely have to do with surface meanings. Jesus' question invites them to an intentional act of self-reflection: What am I seeking?"

June 03, 2008 at 10:34 AM

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