God Calls YOU
Fr Tom Simmons, 3 Epiphany 2018
Jonah 3:1-5,10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
There’s no way I ever wanted to be here today.
For me the whole idea of standing up in front of people being a priest made me queasy.
I couldn’t imagine I’d ever be good at it.
or having to care for the feelings of hundreds of people.
But here I am anyway. What happened?
We saw that happening last week with young Samuel. God called. Literally “Samuel, Samuel.” Called him to be a prophet.
We see that in our readings this week.
God called Jonah to preach repentance to Nineveh.
God called Christians in Corinth to take radical lifestyle steps to bring God’s word to their city.
God called four fishermen to drop their nets and follow.
Saying “God’s kingdom is here. Drop everything to follow me.”
Why would anyone leave everything we know to follow Jesus?
It’s kind of a hard sell.
If some dude with a sandals, beard and robes came into town and said, “Leave your job and family, your business you’ve spent years building and follow me.
There’s no health care, or pension or social security safety net.”
Put yourself in their shoes…would you take Jesus up on it?
Why WOULD you?
è The reason WHY they’d leave everything is because of WHAT the kingdom of God is.
So let’s talk about WHAT the Kingdom of God is.
Jesus is marching around Galilee, a man with a message.
“The time of waiting is over. The Kingdom of God is here.”
Jesus could put that on his tee-shirt.
Here’s a way to think of that announcement.
Think of the world as rebel-held territory.
God made it and made it good, just, harmonious, full of life.
But now it’s been taken over by forces of malice and stupidity and corruption.
People are living under this oppression.
It’s like Venezuela.
Used to be one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America.
With more oil in the ground than Saudi Arabia.
Yet now it’s been taken over and the starving people killed the zoo animals for food.
But God’s not content to leave it that way.
He sent his Son to defeat the enemy; reclaim the world.
Jesus is announcing that creator God has finally come to rescue the world, make it right again.
That’s what Jesus is announcing when he shouts, “The time is at hand, the kingdom of God has come”.
People hear that and want to get in on the ground floor.
That’s why they followed. They knew a good prospect when the saw it.
You too? Yes!
How would we do that?
What might that look like in YOUR life?
Here’s what it looked like in mine. I’ve been through two harrowing times when Jesus was calling me to make some hard choices.
One was back in college soon after my conversion. I had a lot of hard life-style choices to make as a new follower of Jesus.
I ended up getting rid of my record collection, de-pledging my fraternity, breaking up with my girlfriend.
I even considered leaving college, which would have my dad feel like old Zebedee when his boys left their nets behind to follow Jesus.
The second call was in the mid-90s struggling with Jesus’ call to priesthood.
Jonah comes to mind… Instead of fleeing to Tarshish I went to Capitol Hill, thinking I could be a political operative.
I also joined an infantry battalion of the Army National Guard, thinking I’d go into the Special Forces.
Either way I wasn’t going to be working in a church!
But God calls.
I ended up submitting, like Jonah in the belly of the Rayburn Building rather than a whale.
God calls you too…Maybe to change your career…
…OR MAYBE NOT!
God works through people in all walks of life to witness and spread his kingdom everywhere they go.
The mission field isn’t Guatemala. It begins when you turn left onto Glendale.
It is your home and neighborhood, your school and place of employment.
That’s what I was doing in DC and in the Army.
Picture Peter and Andrew still pulling nets in the Galilee.
But now they tell all their friends about what they witnessed in Jesus.
Their family and friends, almost their whole village are interested in Jesus and want to learn more.
That’s how Jesus calls most people to serve.
Jesus’ strategic plan is simple.
Summarize it in two words: multiply yourself.
He knows there’s only so much one man can do, so he is building a movement based on partnership with others in ministry.
He says, “I need you guys.”
He’s going to multiply HIS impact in the world by multiplying himself in the lives of others.
So, he called Peter and Andrew, James and John.
So God calls YOU AND ME.
He does it TO you from others and THROUGH you to others.
That’s how the gospel has spread around the world.
That’s how it’s going to reach the people God is calling you to in YOUR mission field.
è What is that mission field for you? Where will you be most useful?
Wherever it is, God calls you to multiply your faith in the lives of others.
Whether it’s pulling nets,
Selling real estate, raising a family, serving as a soldier,
Going to school, working in an office
Or volunteering in the Fire Company.
God calls you to see the need, feel empathy, and reach out a hand to serve to multiply your faith in others.
God calls us to do this together.
With our famous events that gather the community to turn strangers into friends.
With our mission trips to Guatemala.
With our service at Tree of Life
God calls us to do it individually.
Praying persistently for our friends who don’t yet know Jesus.
Being available to serve them, looking for openings to discover their spiritual side.
Being courageous to speak about Jesus with them.
Like Peter, God calls each of you to be “fishers of men.”