04 Feb Kingdom Dreaming
Mark 1:16-20, 2:13-17
February 4, 2018
M. Michelle Fincher
Calvary Presbyterian Church
Over the past month we have looked at a few of the call stories in the Bible. One thing we’ve seen is that God’s call can come in a lot of different ways. In both the Old and New Testaments, the use of dreams to convey God’s call and God’s will is a fairly common occurrence. Mary, Joseph, and Elizabeth; Abraham, the “other” Joseph and Eli—their dreams were carriers of life changing messages from God. But, other calls came in different ways. Moses got a burning bush. David was picked from among his brothers and anointed. Peter got called from off his boat. Saul was struck blind. And Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish getting clarity about his call.
All this talk about call raises the question, what is our call? What is our call as individuals, what is our call as a church, and how do our calls fit with the call of the church universal and its role as bearers of the Kingdom of God in our neighborhood and in our world?
Because make no mistake about it, we are all called. Our calls may or may not come to us as dramatically as Moses or Mary’s did to them, but we are no less called and God’s purposes for us are no less significant than theirs. We are all given a part in the eternal, redemptive purposes of God.
Today we’ll look at one final call story. The story of Jesus’ call of the first disciples is striking in a number of ways, not the least of which is simply how the extraordinary was embedded in the ordinary. No burning bush. No thunder and lightning. No voices in the middle of the night. Just some fishermen doing what fishermen do—catching fish, taking care of their equipment, running their business—and a tax collector doing what tax collectors do—receiving people’s tax payments, keeping track of accounts, and making sure Rome gets its money.
But then, those words—and that person: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.” And with that, everything shifted.
In the case of these particular men, Jesus’ call required a change of vocation. But, for most of us, it isn’t that way. We still keep on being tradespeople, working for the government, running a business. We teach, we practice nursing, we are caregivers for the elderly. And we raise our children, pay our bills, tend to our homes and yards, and provide nourishment for body and soul for ourselves and for those in our daily care.
But Jesus’ invitation is no less relevant for us than it was for Peter, Andrew, James, John and Levi. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.” In other words, come, be part of something bigger than your day-to-day survival, that will, in fact, permeate your day-to-day lives with new meaning. Be part of something that has eternal value and purpose in the here and now. Learn to see the holy in the mundane, to see holy ground in a patch of dry earth, to see beloved, redeemed, royal men and women in the faces of those most easily overlooked. Learn how love breaks the cycle of anger and violence. Learn the power of forgiveness. Come, be part of something that will not only change your life; it will change the world.”
When we grasp the call of God, it still changes everything, even though we may very well get up tomorrow morning, eat the same thing for breakfast we always eat, join the throngs of commuters like we do every day, work the same job with the same people, make sure there is food to eat and clean clothes for everyone in the house to wear, same as every other day. But, hearing and responding to the call of Jesus means that we are not the same. Our attitudes are different. Our actions are different. Our priorities are different. Our values are different. Even our perception of reality is different.
As disciples, Jesus teaches us and shapes us for Kingdom life which is very different from the way of the culture. We are not all about ourselves anymore. We do not use or manipulate others in order to get ahead ourselves. We don’t spend all our time or money or energy on our own pursuits. We do the hard work of forgiveness if for no other reason than we ourselves know what it is to be forgiven by God. We deal with habits that keep us from living into the freedom God wants for us: habits of worry or complaint, perfectionism or arrogance, being judgmental or self-diminishing. We deal with our idolatries and instead, long for the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in our lives. We see value in people that others cast aside, and perhaps most importantly, we think very differently about suffering, evil and death. In the Kingdom, hope and life always have the last word.
In Sermon Talk Back last week, Angus shared that the residents of the retirement community where he and Sharon have moved, don’t understand why they drive 45 minutes to go to church. “They don’t get it,” is what Angus said—and you know, when we are hear the call to follow Christ, there will be a lot of things we do and say, don’t do and don’t say that other people really won’t “get.” Belonging to Christ changes our identity. And having a new identity changes our longings and our dreams.
I want us to reflect and dream together this morning about our identity in Christ, about who God has called and is calling us to be and finally, what it might look like to answer God’s call to be fishers of women and men. To focus our conversation, I have three questions to ask you:
- Why are you here? You could do a hundred different things on a Sunday morning besides be here, so why are you here? Or, what is different in your life because of being part of Calvary?
- Since Jesus is calling us to be fishers of people, what kind of people do we need to be in order to answer that call?
- What are your dreams for our church/for our impact on our community?