How would your priorities change if you knew absolutely that this was the last week of your life? I believe that Possessions would lose their power over us, while our relationships would become much dearer. Have you given much thought to what is of greatest value to you? Paul calls us to put Christ in the center of our lives, and to remove whatever else may hold priority, whether it is your bank account, car, family, career, or house.
Now can you imagine for a moment, not only putting Christ at the center of everything you do — but to leave all your stuff behind, leave your family, friends, jobs, cars, home behind to follow Jesus?
Now, I think I might have a hard time with that to be honest with you. There are responsibilities in our lives, there are things that need to be done, doctor appointments to go too, bills to be paid. How could we care for ourselves and our families if we got up and left to follow Jesus? Some of you may say it would be easy, because come on it’s Jesus!
Others of you might be more like me, but if you have worries or doubts that doesn’t mean you are a bad Christian. It doesn’t mean that you are less faithful than Andrew and Peter, James and John.
Because I do find the call story of Andrew, Peter, James and John inspiring. Reading about the calling of the disciples is motivating and I would like to picture myself doing the same thing.
But I remember as I was preparing to go to seminary and Katie and I sat down to weigh the options. We had a six month old baby, we were going to pick up and move to a new community with little money and no jobs. We were taking out thousands of dollars in student loans. Because I felt Jesus saying, follow me.
So many times when we feel like we have the call from God, we want to follow Jesus, we want to be like Andrew, Peter, James and John but we let our stuff get in the way and I am expanding upon our physical possessions. All the stuff in our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our emotions, the things that block us from living out that call, but also in some ways preventing us from connecting with God and one another.
There are any number of ways that we can follow Jesus. So we talk together about what we believe God is calling us to do and we follow.
Now it is our job as a church to discern how we are being called to follow. As a community of faith Jesus calls us too — Knowing our individual call is important but so is know our call as a church.
Our call as a church is to think about how we can follow Jesus by trying, to treat others with the same love and patience that he did, by responding to and sharing God’s love to all people, especially those who were overlooked by society. To try to live and treat others as Jesus did, by showing love, forgiveness, grace, in word and deed.
We are promised a place in this community and it is only by the Grace of God that we are able to experience true fellowship and love. Think about it, there are only a few places in your life that you are invited and encouraged to be your true self. We as a community of faith have an identity, but in that identity we are supported of live into the identity we have been given in our baptism. God will always treat us a beloved child, named and Claimed as God’s own.
How amazing is that? We are invited to be in a place where we are blessed, loved and invited to be our true self — we are supported in all that we do!
Now is this a perfect community? No
But no community is….but to be honest with you – one of the reasons I long for church every week is because I am a part of a broken world. Every week I have an opportunity to gather in this space to confess my sins – to make things right with God. Then I hear the words of absolution, forgiving me of all the things I have done or not done.
Then I have an opportunity to make peace with the people around me. To show a sign of God’s peace and to say that I am sorry.
I also receive the physical forgiveness in the body and blood, the bread and wine at community. To hear the words the body given for you, the blood shed for you and I know that God is with me.
Finally I know that we are sent. We have been blessed we have been loved we have been forgiven and we are sent to share what blessing, that love, that forgiveness with the world.
That’s what Paul was saying in his letter to the corinitians, that’s why Jesus was calling his disciples. So that all can experience this blessing, this love, this forgiveness from God.
So think about the times and places and occasions where you might try to follow Jesus by setting your possessions aside, by putting down your cell phones and look where the need is, and then respond to that need by treating others as we see Jesus treating people, by reaching out to a neighbor and share what you learned in church this week, by helping a friend.
The more that you do this, the more that you live into identity into which Jesus has already called, the more connected you are going to feel to God and to the people around you. The point isn’t about being “better disciples” but it is about knowing and experiencing Jesus more deeply by following him.
Click below to listen to the full sermon: