An Invitation: Philip and Nathanial

“The next day he [Jesus] decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth. But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:43-46)

In meeting Jesus, Philip was profoundly impacted, enough to go and find his friend Nathanael and tell him all about it. Nathanael is skeptical – “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip persists: “Come and see.” Nathanael’s skepticism is still present, but he’s willing to hear his friend out and meet this Jesus who is suddenly so important, “the one about whom Moses wrote in the law”.

This story illustrates how sometimes it is a very simple invitation that begins a person’s journey to faith in Jesus. If we continue on only three more verses in this chapter we see Nathanael proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel, and he goes on to become one of the twelve apostles upon whom the whole Church is built. This simple invitation from Philip started Nathanael on a journey that would define the rest of his life!

This simple invitation is at the heart of CCO’s ministry, especially at the beginning of the school year. The first few weeks of every semester are what we call our “Penetration Phase”. All of our efforts, both as staff and with our student leaders, are focused on attempting to reach out to as many students as possible during those weeks with the invitation of “come and see.” We gather the contact information of hundreds of new students each semester who respond to the invitation to “come and see” what is happening in CCO. We meet with these students individually to get a sense of where they are in their own faith and invite them to come and meet Jesus through joining a small group Faith Study or come out to a large-group event. There they have the opportunity to hear testimonies and learn what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Everything we do is an opportunity to invite a student to “come and see”.

Our biggest hope for every student we meet is that they can eventually live the same experience Philip does in this story. Philip’s encounter with Jesus leads to Nathanael’s life being forever changed. Our ultimate goal is that every student we encounter would experience a life-changing conversion through meeting Jesus and that this conversion would infuse in them the same missionary heart that led Philip to reach out to Nathanael, and that the friends and classmates those students reach out to would respond as Nathanael did: “You are the Son of God, the King of Israel.”

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