Message Supplement (25 January 2015)

We focus on another disciple-building day in Jesus’ early ministry. The situation was such that John the Baptist had been arrested and was out of the scene. Jesus was moving forward with his mission and gathering his inner-circle of followers.

Jesus’ foundational message to the world was simple yet full of life: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). The time was right and the kingdom our Lord was building attracted spiritual seekers. Two sets of fishermen brothers (Simon & Andrew, James & John) responded to Jesus’ invitation as they were working at the Sea of Galilee. The rapid response of the two sets of brothers implies that they had been open to God’s leading.

In calling James and John, the text indicates that these brothers immediately left their father and the hired workers. The haste of James’ and John’s departure mush have left their father short of necessary laborers. The hardship this likely caused can cast something of a shadow over the situation. The usual lesson drawn from the brothers’ actions is that following Jesus is worth abandoning anything and everything, including your closest relatives and livelihood. This is a recurrent theme is Jesus’ ministry, that of being willing to drop everything for God’s higher purpose.

What would it take for you to drop all your roles and responsibilities to follow a spiritual teacher? Neither Simon & Andrew nor James & John had the benefit of hindsight as we do. We know in retrospect that they made a choice to follow God. From their perspective, the situation was uncertain and even risky. We can easily and smugly conclude that the brothers made a wise choice given what we know about Jesus. Nagging questions remain, however, such as whether the brothers’ response to follow Jesus involved great faith, an impulsive decision, or simply a desire to try some new adventure. Whatever their motivations, the brothers’ act of abandoning their family and professions yielded the four men an unparalleled status as saintly pillars of Christianity. Perceived this way, what the men gave up was nothing compared to what they gained.

What are you ready to do for God and the kingdom of heaven? This momentous question begs our attention because it involves the meaning of our lives, service to God, and the nature of our priorities. Allow God to help you sort things out. Are you primed and ready to accept Jesus’ invitation? Are you ready to open your heart and mind to a changed life?

As you ponder the possibilities please support the renovation of our fellowship hall. Your brothers and sisters at St. John need your time, talent and treasures as we respond to God’s Spirit. There are people in our community whose name we don’t yet know but we are partnering with God in creating ways to reach them. Yes, God is working through us. Just as Jesus called disciples long ago so does God continue to recruit dedicated followers in partnership with us. This is how we advance the cycle of Discipleship and Outreach. In other words, we can DO it!

–Reverend Larry Hoxey