“Show Me” faith

A father was trying to teach his three sons to do their fair share of the house cleaning. The first place that he started was the bathroom.

Dad crammed the three boys into the room and proceeded to clean the toilet in front of them. Alright, I’ve showed them, the father thought. Next time, they can do it.

So, the next Saturday came, and the father set the boys to work. They wiped off the counter tops, cleaned the mirror and then stared at the toilet.

“How does that work again, Dad?” “Will you show us one more time?”

Well, the father got down on his hands and knees and cleaned the toilet again for their benefit.
Next Saturday… same situation… that toilet just wasn’t getting cleaned by itself. The boys couldn’t or didn’t want to learn how to do it.
So Dad got an idea. He called in the eldest son and showed him how to do it. Then he had the oldest son repeat what he had done – only on the clean toilet.

The next Saturday morning – Dad brought the oldest and the middle children into the bathroom.

“Okay son… now you teach your brother how to clean this toilet. Show him, what I showed you.”
Lo and behold, the toilet got clean!

The next Saturday, Dad had his middle and youngest sons come into the bathroom. Again, the older child taught the younger one what to do, with no problems.

Having run out of children, the next Saturday, Dad took the youngest son and their dog into the bathroom. “Alright son, teach Rufus here how to clean the toilet.”

The father never had to clean another toilet again!

There is an old adage in the medical world – “see one, do one, teach one.” First you see a procedure done… then you yourself do it… and then you teach a colleague or another student how to do it themselves.
This is something that is reinforced by various learning theories. We learn the best not when we hear, not even when we ourselves do something, but when we are able to teach another person. When we pass on what we have been taught, that knowledge sticks with us. It becomes a part of us.

So I want to keep one question at the back of our minds today… when was the last time you taught someone else how to be a Christian?

In our gospel lesson for this morning, we find ourselves reading very familiar words. “Believe in God, believe in me…. I am the way and the truth and the life.”

For thirteen chapters now of this gospel, Jesus has been showing the disciples the way. He has been showing them the truth, he has been showing them life.

He is like the father who gets down on his hands and his knees and cleans the toilet for his children to see.

This is what you should be and do. This is how you should live. Feed the hungry. Love the sinners. Seek the lost. Take care of one another.

And the very first words out of a disciples mouth?

“Show me one more time.”

Writer GK Chesterton once penned, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.”

Like the three boys in the bathroom staring at a toilet, we faithful believers often find ourselves staring at the Way of Christ and don’t quite know what to do. The task is daunting. It is overwhelming. It smells bad. We don’t want other people to see us on our hands and knees like that.

And so we turn to Jesus… Will you show me again?

I have become convinced that a very large percentage of Christians in this world are living with a “show me” faith.

Ever pass by a homeless person on a street corner and pray: “I just wish you would show me how to help that person, God”

Ever get into a fight with a loved one and look to the heavens saying: “Jesus, just show me how to have more patience!”

Ever finish one chapter of your life and look forward to the next step of your journey with your heart crying out, “Please God, show me what to do next.”

Every time we utter those words, we are waiting for someone else to come and step in. We are praying for God to intervene. “Show me” faith keeps looking backwards, keeps returning to square one, keeps us from taking a step forward.

When the disciple Philip turned to Jesus and said, “Master, show us the father and then we’ll be content,” Jesus was quick to respond.

“You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand, you still don’t trust? You still don’t believe?”

How long have you been walked alongside Jesus? How long have you been sitting at his feet, listening, watching, but not putting into practice what he has taught us?

There is a small misunderstanding that we must clear up with the word, “believe.” Contrary to popular opinion, to “believe” does not to make a statement about something. It is not an intellectual decision or a theological opinion. No, the word as used in our gospels means to trust your life to someone or something.

To believe in God… to believe in Jesus Christ… means to have faith, to trust, that God is already there, already leading you on the path, has already given you everything you need in order to take the next step forward.
All that you need to do, is to do it. To take the leap of faith. To trust.
Jesus turned to Philip and pleaded… “Believe me! I am my father. My father is in me. And if you trust that you won’t only be able to do what I am now doing… but you will do even greater things.

I’m giving you this task. And you can do it.

I don’t have to show you anymore. Just take the first step and respond.

When you see that person on the street corner in need of some help and some love – don’t wait for God to show you what to do… you KNOW what to do… reach out your hand and do it!

When you are having that fight, don’t wait for God to show you what to do… you know… you KNOW what God desires for you in that moment… you are just to proud or scared to let go and trust and to do it.

When you find yourself struggling with the next step of your journey, stalled out in the middle of the road… don’t wait for God to show you. God has been there beside you the whole time and every step you make down that road you can trust that God will be there. And if it is the wrong step, God will put you back on the right paths. Just trust him. Just do something. And do it out of the faith and hope and love that you have in your Lord and Savior.
It is time for us to stop having a “show me faith” and time for us to “go and do likewise.”
It is time for us to take a leap of faith, knowing that the one we trust has already shown us the way.
It is time for us to not only start to do, but to teach one another how to do it also.

That is what the community of faith is all about, after all. It is the people of God, holding, guiding, supporting, encouraging, teaching, learning together what it means to be the Body of Christ in this world.

I shared with you after our gospel lesson this morning a brief passage from the book of Acts.

This is after all, the outcome of the gospel. The Acts of the Apostles reminds us what happens when we go and do likewise.

The disciples took a leap of faith and with a good dose of the Holy Spirit they set the world on fire.
And they taught others who taught others, who continued to teach others this Way of Christ.
And one of those people was a man named Stephen.
Stephen didn’t wait around for Jesus to show him what to do… he trusted in his heart that God was with him, that the Holy Spirit had his back, and that he was called to act.

And just as Jesus promised, Stephen did amazing things – great things – in the name of God.

And when people stood against him, did Stephen back down and wait for Jesus to show him what to do next?

No. He trusted. He believed. He opened his mouth and let God speak through him.

Even as he was being killed for his beliefs – for his trust in Jesus Christ – he kept his faith. And he kept speaking. And he kept teaching.
And because he believed even to his death, a young man named Saul had seeds planted in his soul. And Saul one day met Jesus and became Paul. And Paul didn’t wait around for Jesus to show him… he went out there and he did likewise.
Are you a “show me” Christian? Or are you a Christian who is ready to “go and do likewise?” Take a chance. Take a leap of faith. Trust and believe…. Go to do and to teach.

Amen and Amen.

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