Sermon for 1/25/15 Mark 1:14-20

I know this probably doesn’t surprise you, but I’m not much into fishing. It requires two things of me that I just don’t have: the ability to be patient and the ability to be quiet. But, that didn’t stop me from attempting to fish many times. My grandpa, Lyle, was an avid fisherman. He owned a boat and would spend many hours on Lake Texoma fishing away. He took several trips to Canada to fish as well. One of my favorite pictures of Grandpa is of him in a “bucket style” fishing hat, pipe in mouth, reel in hand. So often when I watch “On Golden Pond” the character played by Henry Fonda reminds me of my grandfather. My nannie, Barb, also liked to fish. She fished much more later in her life when she retired and would spend time in Florida with her male friend, Mr. Smith; he fished too.

Mom, in the hopes of passing along some sort of fishing genes or something, would often pack fishing poles when we went camping in the summertime. I desired to always catch “the big one” despite having only my little pathetic Snoopy fishing pole. I am sure all the minnows I threw back are now long dead. My mom still enjoys fishing and she often goes with my brother in law. I enjoy eating fish but that’s about as close as I get anymore to fishing. That doesn’t mean that I’m not willing to give it another try.

Despite my hesitation towards fishing, I’m not sure that I would instantly leave what I was doing to follow some random guy who walked up to my fishing hole and asked me to follow him. As I thought about it, I couldn’t think of many things that I’ve done instantly in my life. I don’t know a lot of people that are instantaneous. And maybe that’s the thing. Out of all of the things we decide to do in our lives, out of all the decisions we make, shouldn’t hanging out with Christ be at least one of the decisions we make in an instant? Shouldn’t be a no-brainer?

I want to be cautious with the language I use, friends. Many times, in many denominations, we hear the word about “choosing” or “finding” Jesus. You may have a friend or family member that says “I know the moment I chose to make Jesus Christ my personal Lord and Savior.” Or, you may get that knock on the door with a very well intentioned evangelist standing on your doorstep with the great question of “have you found Jesus?” My answer to that, by the way, is always “I didn’t know he was lost.”

See, the thing is, we don’t choose Christ. He chooses and has already chosen us. We are claimed in the waters of baptism. We are fed with his body and blood. Our sins were taken away in his death. The only one who had a choice in any of this was Christ. And he chose it freely and with love. And should we ever choose to walk away from Christ, to throw our hands up and say “I’m going at this life thing alone without you!” Christ will still be with us whether we acknowledge it or not. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a really hopeful promise.

When Jesus called out to Simon and Andrew and then James and John to follow him, they not only chose to, but they chose to do it instantly. And Jesus probably would have gone about his business should they had chosen not to follow him. And really, there were a lot of reasons to not follow Jesus. Simon, Andrew James, and John were fishing. But they weren’t doing it in a leisurely manner, this was their job. Nonetheless, they followed Jesus. And I have to wonder: did they know? Did they know that he was the messiah? Did they know that he would change the world? Did they know that he would love the unloveable? Did they know that he would cure people? Did they know that he would feed the hungry? Did they know that he would be betrayed not only by his friend but theirs as well. Did they know that he would hang on a cross suffering for them and for all of us?

Even if they did know all of that, they followed him anyway. But it’s not like they saw Jesus, and said “he looks like an interesting guy to follow…let’s do it!” No. Jesus called them. I have this theory and I’m willing to entertain the thought that I’m wrong about this. I believe Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, John (and all of the other disciples) because he knew he needed friends. He knew he needed help. He knew he needed a posse. Jesus knew that he shouldn’t go about ministry alone. Jesus doesn’t want to go it alone. And here’s the thing, we shouldn’t go it alone.

There’s something to be said for friendship. There’s something wonderful about being part of a team. Life seems easier when you’re not alone. I believe that Jesus doesn’t expect us to be alone. We may have times when we feel alone or we are physically alone, but that doesn’t mean that we are actually alone. We, of course, always have Christ. But we have those people in our lives that have us always in mind or always in their hearts. If you know or have loved someone that has taken their own life, you probably heard or thought “if only they knew how many people cared for or loved him/her.” We are not meant to do things alone. Even when God created Adam, God saw that Adam shouldn’t be alone. Genesis 2:18 says “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’” And along came Eve.

God created us to be in relationship. I think that bears repeating. God created us to be in relationship; not only in relationship with one another, but also in relationship with Christ and with God. Now, I’m not telling you “never be alone.” In fact, there are several stories where Christ goes away from his friends to pray and to rest. I believe that Christ was probably an introvert. There are times when it is good to be alone, to rest, to recharge, to regroup. But, we are ultimately created to be in relationship with one another. Christ started his ministry to the world around him by doing one simple thing: calling to his friends and basically saying “hey, do you want to come on an adventure with me?”

Christ calls to us. Sometimes we recognize it, sometimes we don’t, sometimes we run from it. But, Christ will always and does always call to us. Maybe Christ is calling us into new relationships. Maybe Christ is calling us into new ministries. Maybe Christ is calling us into something unknown but the promise of “I’m already there, waiting for you” lingers in the air. The question is, friends, when Christ calls, how will we respond? Christ’s ministry was not just a one time thing. Christ’s ministry continues. It continues in this place and all throughout the world. When Christ calls to us, how shall we respond?

When Christ called to Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, did they say “we’re going to have a committee meeting to decide whether or not to do that and then we have to vote. But first, we have to vote to vote.” Nope. They just went–immediately. Now I agree that we have processes and procedures in place for a reason. But, at the same time, we shouldn’t get in the way of Christ. Often when Christ calls, we make a lot of excuses: time, money, resources, our other family, friends, our jobs, even our faith. What it comes down to, though, is the only thing stopping us from answering when Christ calls is us.

I’m not asking you to abandon your jobs, or your family, or your friends, or your boats and nets. What I am asking you to do is to be open to Christ calling you into something better. Be open to Christ calling you into something different. Be open to Christ calling you into something amazing. Christ said yes to you immediately. The least we can do when called is listen.

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