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The only chapter we are studying this week is John 1. Rather than going through a few chapters, we are able to really spend some time and focus the entire week on a couple of messages. And even though it is only one chapter, we can find a recurring pattern. There is an occurrence that happens three different times in this short section of scripture.
They simply showed Christ
The first time this phenomenon occurs is with John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was out baptizing in Bethabara, and the Jews sent some priests and Levites to go and check out what was occurring. John was baptizing, and they wanted to know who he was. During this time period, everyone was anxiously awaiting the appearance of the Messiah and the leaders wanted to know if John was Him. John responded that he was not. Later, when John was approached by the Savior, John testified:
John 1:30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
I could be wrong, but I’m picturing a scene where others are standing and listening to John. As Jesus approaches, he draws the attention of those around him to the Savior. John testifies that Christ is who they should be following.
This phenomenon occurs again. Two disciples follow Christ. One of them is Andrew who goes to his brother Simon (Peter), and says:
41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus…
Then there is the third time. Phillip was found by the Savior and quickly developed a testimony. He runs to Nathanael and testifies that he has found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Then this occurs:
John 1:46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
In order to save some time, I could have talked about just one example of this phenomenon. However, I wanted to highlight its significance by highlighting its frequency. This phenomenon is the action of leading others to Christ so that they can see for themselves.
Why we should bring them straight to Him
It may seem obvious why we should just lead others directly to Christ, but let’s explore it some more.
Reason number one. It’s so much easier. There have been plenty of times in my life where I have tried to convince someone of the truth. I think the gospel makes perfect sense, and so I often try to share that with others. I can think of one example in particular.
I was out teaching a lesson with the missionaries. These investigators had questions about polygamy, and the points they made in the bible were extremely legitimate when not coupled with modern revelation. For a period of time, I tried explaining and explaining until the Spirit finally got my attention and told me to bear my testimony. I dropped the explanations that I had needed when thinking about polygamy, and instead, I simply told them that a lot of people still had a difficult time with the idea of polygamy. I told them that they chose to hold on to the gospel anyway because the truth was there, even if they didn’t fully understand all of the different aspects of the history or doctrine. It was so bizarre to see them completely drop the issue like it was nothing. A point of church history that had been discussed over and over with them was suddenly unimportant when compared with the truth.
Sure…I didn’t walk them straight to the Savior like John the Baptist, Andrew, or Phillip, but I kinda did. I walked them as close as I could in that particular moment, and they were able to feel Christ regardless of whether they could see Him. And it absolutely changed everything.
We bring others directly to Christ because then we don’t have to feel nervous or fearful. We don’t have to feel a ton of pressure; we are not the ones on display. If we give others the opportunity to feel Christ, they will come on their own.
Reason number two. Beyond simply being easier, every individual needs that direct connection to Christ. Anything less will be insufficient. When someone is a part of the gospel because of another person, there will always be disillusionment because people are imperfect. We cannot adequately reflect the whole light that is Christ, and we are all disappointing sometimes. When someone has their testimony based on us rather than Christ, they rightfully feel that they made a wrong decision. It has to be based on Christ.
Anything less than a direct connection with Christ is also insufficient because they need their own revelation. Something that may make perfect sense to you may be meaningless to them. Something that may bring you immense peace about specific issues may not be the perspective that will speak to them. The decision that is right for you may not be the right decision for them. If their entire connection to Christ is filtered through us, it will come out clouded. They need the direct source.
How we bring them to Him
So we know we need to bring our loved ones straight to Him, but how do we do that? What does it look like? Those questions are intimidating because there are a million ways it can manifest, but let’s talk principles and then you can find your own personal manifestations.
When Phillip took Nathanael to go see Christ, a couple of processes had to occur. Phillip had to go find Nathanael where he was, and then Phillip had to take Nathanael through the steps that led back to Christ.
You have to meet them where they’re at. I have a dear loved one that wanted nothing to do with God, let alone His church. Bringing this loved one to Christ manifested as teaching Christlike principles without saying His name (obviously that’s not ideal, but we have to start somewhere). We talked about following deep feelings, how forgiving brings self-healing, and how to hold healthy relationships by becoming more selfless. Meeting someone where they’re at means feeling comfortable with taking a step at a time rather than trying to catapult them right to the location of Christ.
Then the steps towards Christ have to occur. There are a lot of ways these steps can appear.
Perhaps it is as simple as trying to reflect His light. Obviously the ultimate goal is to form that direct connection with Christ, but reflecting the light of Christ can give them a taste so that they develop a desire to step towards Him. Reflecting His light means radiating the happiness, peace, and trust that comes with a deep testimony of Christ. We have more light than we think we do, but sometimes we turn it off by simply being negative. We believe in the gospel, but it’s not influencing our perspectives as deeply as it could and therefore, our light is dimmer.
Perhaps a step might look like manifesting the love of Christ. It means that when you stand with that person, you forget about your to-do list or how you may appear to them. It means that you are focused solely on their well-being in the same way that Christ would. Whether or not they consciously recognize how you make them feel, they will gravitate towards those feelings. I’ve seen it a million times. People can feel when you are truly caring about them, when you are seeing them, when you recognize them as a child of God. When Nathanael reaches Christ, their conversation is very short and doesn’t give much indication as to why Nathanael would suddenly believe he found the Christ. Christ is like, “I saw you under a fig tree,” And Nathanael is like, “Yup. This is the Guy. This is the Son of God.” I imagine that this sudden testimony moment sprouted from how Nathanael felt around Christ. Make people feel how Christ would make them feel, and you are one step closer to them standing before Christ.
Last recommendation (even though there are a great many more). Teach them how to talk to Him. It’s all fine and dandy that they’ve walked in His vicinity, but they have to speak with Him and hear back from Him if they really want that direct connection. When they come to you with a life problem, you help them think of things they can pray for. When they come to you with a question, you give them a piece of paper to write it down and then you dive into the scriptures together where they can write down phrases or feelings they have while they’re reading. You point it out when you see them receiving promptings so that they can also consciously acknowledge it. Don’t do the work for them. Don’t just give them advice or experiences you’ve had; give them their own experiences.
I know Christ is worth knowing. I know that a relationship with Him is all you really need, but I also know that connections with other humans give you a foundation on which to learn about Him. I know that Christ loves each one of us, and He has the power to manipulate the eternities and earth in our favor. I know that if we can truly feel that in our lives, we will radiate and reflect His light and others will naturally want to meet Him.