Come and see Jesus

7852564228_6cc4aaa3c1_zSo here we are at the “Come and See” conference hosted by Steve Garber’s Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. And Steve opens up the conference by explaining to us the interesting title of the conference (with words to this effect – I don’t guarantee this is verbatim, though I use quotation marks):

“My 3 year old granddaughter was trying out the pool with her new water wings, cautiously getting into the water, getting used to it step by step, then jumping off the side of the pool, then beginning to splash across it, excitedly. When she had the triumphant hang of the thing, she cried out urgently, ‘Daddy, Come and see!’

“Even out of the mouths of babes comes this truth that we just can’t get beyond: Some truths, it’s just not enough to talk about and explain, by running in to the person and saying “Guess what I just did!” No, I need you to come see what I have done.

“We as humans learn our deepest truest lessons only by looking over shoulders of those from whom we want to learn – we just don’t learn lessons like that from books alone.”

At this point my mind went immediately to Michael Polanyi, but Steve anchored his point in an even more inspired source.

“The pedagogy of Jesus in John 1 is instructive, in fact normative for us. We shouldn’t stop reading books or going to lectures, but there’s just something about the way we learn, such that we must come and see what some truths look like, how they work out in life. Because of a small thing in John 1 someone says “come and see” – The Incarnation is the heart of that, the Word who becomes flesh. God who makes us understands that we must see that words can become flesh in order for us to understand – we just don’t “get” those words otherwise.

“We (the institute) do a lot of talking around the country about these things, but we thought a few years ago that if we have the earnestness and desire to say ‘come and see what we’re doing here’—not that it’s the be all and end all, or heaven come to earth, but—we should be using a pedagogy of Jesus we call the ‘come and see pedagogy’ – an acknowledgement that our deepest, truest lessons only happen when we ‘come and see.’

“I taught five kids to throw Frisbees – When I was young I hiked through Europe with a little backpack to containing a Frisbee – because you can always throw one to someone. And teaching my kids, I had to show them: ‘No, it’s more like this.’ – with my arm around theirs. The child would start by throwing it 3 ft, then 5 ft, then 10 ft away – then in a few weeks they could do it from across the yard. I read books to them too, but never one on Frisbee-throwing. Someone sometimes needs to put an arm around your arm, hold on, and show you “it’s more like this.” We require that words become flesh so we can understand them.”

More to come!

Image: “Come and See (Explored)” by Sharon.


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About Chris Armstrong

Dr. Chris Armstrong is a professor of church history, author of Patron Saints for Postmoderns (IVP, 2009) and Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age (Brazos Press, forthcoming early in 2016), and founding director of Opus: The Art of Work at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. Chris believes the reason Protestant evangelicals find ourselves urgently needing to have a conversation about "integrating faith and work" is that we have divorced our faith from our material and social lives. He blogs at gratefultothedead.wordpress.com.


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