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Withdraw to Galilee and Discover Who You Are (January 22, 2017)

22 Jan

Matthew 4:12-23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What would you say is God’s mission? What is God trying to accomplish? . . .

How should the church be helping with that? What is the role of the church?

At LCM, does anyone know our congregational purpose within the church as part of God’s mission? Strengthening Relationships, Serving the World: –with God, –through the worshiping community, –for the world.

We arrived at an understanding of that purpose with a good amount of time, prayer, discussion, and discernment. We didn’t invent it or create it, we discovered it! Before we could discern what our purpose is, we had to acknowledge that we are called by God into one.

We just had a team of people reassess this purpose and come to the conclusion that this is still what we are called to be about.

Do you have any doubts as to whether we as a congregation of Christ’s church have been called by God for a purpose?

A call by God gives meaning to everything. It has to come before anything being done in God’s name. The text today is one that bears that out.

John the Baptist has just been arrested by king Herod. Jesus, when he heard about it, needed to take a step back and assess what to do. He moved from Nazareth to Galilee, and only then began to speak publicly that the reign of God is nearby.

He saw two fishermen and invited them to follow him. He saw two more, and invited them too. Then he went traveling and teaching in the synagogues about God’s good news, and healing people.

What’s interesting about all this is that Jesus had to take some time to consider what to do after John was arrested. Apparently, you could get arrested for speaking God’s truth to power. John wouldn’t leave prison alive, and Jesus needed to be sure about how he was going to move forward.

In other words, Jesus needed to discern his call by God, his purpose. Just going out and talking about God may get you arrested, and you should probably know whether that’s worth it or not. If you’re going to run the risk of getting arrested, you ought to be pretty sure what you’re being arrested for is that important—that high a calling.

I love that Jesus had to take some time to figure all this out. Even Jesus had to be clear about his call, his purpose. And once he felt OK about it, then he could move forward deliberately. And it turns out that for Jesus, he was so certain that he was willing to die for it.

If Jesus had to take the time to become clear about this, doesn’t it make sense that we should too? Before we can live a life of purpose as people of God, we have to trust first that we actually are called to a purpose. We have to believe that we are created in love, deliberately, with a unique collection of gifts and abilities no one else in all of history has ever had. You are more than individuals who work, have friends, save money, retire, and die. You are ever so much more. You are called. You have been given a purpose. And once you begin to grasp it, you have a meaning for your life and a direction.

Jesus called four fishermen for a purpose. Notice he didn’t tell them that as fishermen they would have to first become preschool teachers or attorneys before God could use them. He called them to be who they are, use their experience, their lives, their talents and skills as they followed Jesus. Fish for people. Their purpose was found in their truest selves and deepest identity.

Then, knowing they were called specifically for a purpose, it made sense that following Jesus was a necessary part of that call. Without a sense of purpose, it would be foolish for them to leave their nets and their father and follow him. First you spend time knowing who you are and that you are called, only then do you put it into action.

I think we too often are so concerned with action that we skip the essential part of understanding what the action is for. But simply “getting stuff done” without first understanding what you’re called to be about means we could simply be wasting our time. Just because something sounds like a good idea doesn’t mean we ought to do it. Maybe someone should, but someone for whom that good idea fits as part of their purpose.

It starts with knowing who you are. First of all, you are loved. You are worthwhile. You are forgiven. You are valuable. You are holy. You are made in the very image of the creator of love. That’s first and foremost who you are. That comes first. Admit that to yourself before anything else. That may take some time. That’s OK.

Then consider what it is that keeps you up at night. What gets your heart pumping and your adrenalin flowing? What do you love doing? What gives you contentment and satisfaction?

Use some imagination to think about how your identity as a holy, cherished, child of God overlaps with what you are passionate about. Again, it might take some time. But if Jesus needed time to do it, I guess it’s OK for us, too. You are called for a purpose. Discover that, and your life-direction takes care of itself.

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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Sermon

 

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