Ironically enough, even though I am going to date this on the day I preached it, I am posting this sermon in the middle of a January polar vortex – so the second paragraph, where I say, “Y’all it is hot” – that’s entertaining.
Rehoboth Congregational Church
July 29, 2018
The thought crossed my mind last night that – in the middle of this particular head wave – no one would believe that, given the option of hanging out on the water and fishing or getting out of the boat and leaving the beach, anyone would rather follow Jesus.
Y’all it is hot.
And I do not know what season it was when Jesus called the disciples, but if it was 90° and humid on that particular day along the Sea of Galilee, I think I just might have stayed in the boat.
I want to start with an informal poll this morning. I want to know, when swimming (either in a pool, in the ocean or in a lake) are the you the type of person that: A) Likes to wade carefully into the shallow end so as to allow your body plenty of time to ease in and adjust to the temperature of the water OR B) Likes to jump right in.
Let’s take a poll.
Who likes to wade carefully into the shallow end so as to allow your body plenty of time to ease in and adjust to the temperature of the water?
Who likes to jump right in?
I think how we answer this question tells us a lot about how we approach changes in our lives and our ability to transition quickly and commit fully.
For example, I answered this question with A; I like to wade carefully into the shallow end as to allow my body plenty of time to ease in and adjust to the temperature of the water. And, as a follow up, I like that this option gives me the further option to bow out and say, “You know what, I think I’m okay just up to my shins today.”
I do not like to jump into things. I like to ease into them, I like gentle transitions that allow me to step into both my old world and my new world at the same time. I like having the opportunity to abandon ship and turn back if I want to.
You can imagine how well those first few weeks of parenting went for me.
Every time I start a new home improvement project, particularly painting ones that involve a lot of prep work, I always have this moment fairly early on where I think to myself, “Whyyyyy did I ever start this, because now there is no turning back and I have to finish it.”
A couple of years ago I was painting the kitchen at the parsonage and a friend of mine walked in to help me and she found the fridge in the middle of the room, the table in the living room and me with a hair dryer in my hand, crying because the spackle wasn’t drying fast enough.
And at that point there was no turning back.
So I guess what I am trying to say is that I have a lot of respect for the disciples, because when Jesus called to them in the Sea of Galilee, they did not hesitate. They did not turn back; they dropped their nets and they followed Jesus. They were all in.
I wonder, sometimes, how I would have responded to that call.
I mean, let’s be honest, if they boat was far enough off out, I likely would not have jumped out of it and swam to shore, because I don’t jump in the water BUT I wonder – given my personality type and my desire to ease slowly and carefully into things – would I have left the life I knew, the life I was comfortable with, and followed Jesus?
Because here’s the thing about following Jesus on a real and personal level – you kind of have to be all in, even if it is new, even if it is scary and even if it means turning away from the life you are used to and comfortable leading.
We are officially kicking off Jesus’ adult ministry this morning. The Gospel of Mark began with Jesus’ baptism and then his 40 days in the desert, but now the real work begins. This morning’s reading begins with Jesus standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and he sees two brothers – Simon and Andrew – fishing on the sea. He calls out to them and says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
And what do they do?
They drop their nets and they follow Jesus.
The three of them walk a little bit further down the shore and they see two more brothers, James and John and, again, Jesus calls out to them.
And what do they do?
They drop their nets and they follow Jesus.
They are all in.
When Jesus called the disciples, an important shift happened as the world now experienced a social dimension of God’s work in this world through Jesus. God is not some far away deity, but here on earth, in a human body, experiencing life with the rest of us. And even more than that, Jesus is now asking people to work with him, to walk along side him and learn from him and live out his ministry here on earth.
This narrative of Jesus calling the disciples is unusual for its time, because typically disciples would seek out Hellenistic philosophers or Jewish rabbis to learn from, and not the other way around. But in this case, the initiative comes from Jesus. Jesus knew the work he had ahead of him, he knew he needed a group of disciples, not only to help him in his earthly life, but also to carry out that work after he was gone. Jesus needed people not only to follow him, but to be all in; to be willing to leave their lives behind them and do something completely different.
And immediately they left their nets and followed [Jesus].
They jumped into the deep end. They did not turn back. They were all in.
Are you all in when it comes to following Jesus.
I want to talk about what it means to be all in this morning. Because as much as I abhor using guilt tactics to get people here and involved, I really do believe that the work we do here matters. Our faith is not only an important part of our lives, but it is also a crucial part of what can and will make this world a better place. We cannot be passive in our quest to follow Christ and spread the Gospel in the world, we have to be all in.
We have to be willing to put down our fishing nets. We have to be willing to leave our boats and our families. We have to be willing to follow Jesus with the one simple command: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if faith and church just kind of fitinto our lives? If we did not have to make any sacrifices along the way?
But that is not how it works. That is never how it was supposed to work. Jesus did not wait for disciples to seek him out so they could continue on their quest for knowledge. He did not find disciples in the temple who had already carved out time and space in their lives for worship and learning. He called fishermen from their boats and asked them to walk away from their lives and their livelihoods so that they could follow him. He asked these men to make sacrifices, to change who they were so they could be who God was calling them to be.
How many of us would be willing to do that? How many of us would be that all in?
The social dimension of God’s work in this world is still very much relevant and very much necessary in our world today. We, too, must be willing to abandon parts of our world in order that we might fully follow Christ. We, too, must be willing to let go of something that is safe and secure and trust that God is leading us in the right direction. We, too, must be all in in our faith so that we can continue to write this Christian narrative in our lives today.
This is going to look different for each one of us and it might even look different for us at different points throughout our lives. Sometimes it might mean small changes and sometimes it might mean big changes. Sometimes it will ask little of us and sometimes it will ask a lot of us.
But we have to be all in. We have to make a commitment. We have to know that it is not our will to be done here on earth, but God’s will. We have to be willing to put the needs of others and God’s call for us ahead of our own wants and desires. We have to see Jesus in our lives and abandon our metaphorical fishing nets so that we can follow and proclaim the Gospel for all the world to see.
So let us jump in without looking back. Let us be all in.
Thanks be to God!