Responding to the Call
Responding to the Call
Have you ever screened someone’s call? Raise your hand. You know you have done it. You're busy and got things to do. Have you ever had someone screen your call? You are trying to get hold of them, see how they are doing, but you call and call and no answer.
I found some advice online when this is going on with you.
Determine if you are calling at a good time. Too late, too early, events going on.
Try a different form of communication as maybe they have changed communication habits, phone numbers.
Ask a friend if they have talked to them recently.
Call them from another number.
Assess your relationship with them.
We screen people when we don’t feel like talking to them. When it is intrusive or when we don’t want to hear what they have to say.
At the heart of the Christian faith is responding to the call of Jesus. Responding to it not on our terms, not on our timing, but on his time, and terms, and purpose. We want to ignite our church, ignite impact in our community with the gospel, it begins and centers around us responding to Jesus' call. In Mark 1 we see how the disciples responded to Jesus.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20 ESV)
Prop: Here the disciples leave everything and follow Jesus. Responding to Jesus' call involves a sacrifice of all we have so that commitment to his kingdom redefines not just what we believe but how we live. Being a disciple is about belief and also a way of living. It's an intent to follow Jesus in every part of life.
Discipleship is a complete following of Jesus.
He calls followers, they immediately leave everything. Immediate response. We put off things we don’t want to do. Called to leave everything so Jesus can make them into something.
Complete in the sense that it involves their whole life. Not just part of it, but everything they do. Not a one day a week deal. It affects their whole life.
Jesus is greater than everything. In the gospel of John when Jesus gives a hard teaching about him dying for sins, people turn away and stop following him. He asks his disciples if they also want to leave. They reply to “where will we go. You have the words of life” (John 6:68). To confess Jesus as your Lord is to confess belief that he has the one thing you cannot find anywhere else.
This is the heart of discipleship. It is following Jesus at the expense of everything else. When we stop doing this we stop being disciples. His disciples respond to his call. They don’t ignore it and keep going their way. They don’t say let me get back to you at a better time.
The disciples leave everything to follow Jesus. Homes, jobs, etc. Other places Jesus calls people and they keep their jobs but their purpose is reoriented. Told soldiers to go back to the jobs but do it in a way that honors God (Luke 3:14). The values of his kingdom and his instruction dictate what they do and do not do.
Their immediate and complete response is shocking! They leave the things we so often pray for. Pray for a good sound job. Pray for safety. They leave it all to follow him. We fight and clamor to have safety, provision. They simply walk away from it. Could have said:
Jesus, I’ll come but first let me make sure I sell the boats and get what they are worth.
Jesus, I’ll come but first let me make sure I have everything lined up for a place to stay, work, savings account taken care of. Don’t confuse lack of faith and wisdom.
Jesus, I’ll come but let's just make sure we don’t do anything rash or extreme.
Peter was married, had a mother-In-law (Mark 8:14). At least let me get things straight with her.
Disciples recognize the authority of Jesus and leave other controls in their life. At the heart of discipleship is a renunciation of all that the world has to offer. It is being unsatisfied with all the world offers. This is freeing! Anxiety. Stress. Carrying the thing in the world.
Complete. They left everything. Like Elisha in the Old Testament. The prophet Elijah calls him while he is out plowing in the field. He decided to follow him so he kills his ox, breaks his cart so he can have a fire. He has a feast, makes an offering and follows Elijah. That is complete. He ain't going back. It’s like you leaving your office and destroying your thumb drive that has everything on it. That is how significant it is!! You have no ox, no cart, you couldn't go back if you wanted to.
We are called to be distinct. I’m tired of Christianity trying to be like the world. Feel like a lot of teachers are trying to tell us how to use God to get more of the world. Best life now. God is going to give you more than you can imagine. People have so much stuff and it's killing them. Church needs to proclaim a different message. A radical message.
Discipleship is about leaving everything for Jesus. This is fundamental. Fundamental in sense of a part of everyday life. Not like 6th grade graduation, did it and will never do again. Fundamental in the sense that tackling is a part of football, you never get past it. Fundamental in the sense knowing your abc’s is part of reading. Scales to music.
Freeing. Experience in your marriage. When weighed down by life. How is he trying to shape you right now? How might you be resisting his call?
You can tell what is important to someone by what they give up to acquire it. You can tell how important something is by what they give for it. What do you show up for. What do you show up early for.
Are you willing to follow Jesus at the expense of everything else. Your status in life. Your reputation. Trust him with all that you have. Are you trying to follow Jesus and keep your boats? How is that working for you? You may end up in the worst place. Can't keep up with Jesus and still hold onto your boats. End up with neither one. You have to respond to his call immediately and completely.
Discipleship is a calling to People.
God calls disciples to him together.
You are not alone in the journey. These disciples come in groups, and they come to a group. Peter and Andrew (v16). John and James (v19). Could have called them individually, but he is making a community. Later when he sends his disciples out on mission he also sends them out together (Luke 10:1)
String is made stronger when it is combined with other strings, so it is with people. We need others. Jesus calls the disciples together. He sends them out with others. A central community is essential for the going out of the gospel. God works this way throughout the Bible. This is the place of the church. A community coming together with their lives focused on following Jesus. If you want to grow stagnant in your walk with God just isolate yourself from other believers. Cut yourself off.
If you want to determine your calling get around other people. Serve, work, encourage them.
This pattern of the disciples is the pattern of our discipleship. It is the pattern of the NT.
Discipleship is about Reaching People.
The defining characteristic of following Jesus is that they will be fishers of people. This is what Jesus is making them into! They are to do what Jesus is doing. God created people in his image, he loves his people, sends his Son to die that they might have life. God is interested in the salvation of his people. The OT talks about a time God will send Fishers of people to draw his people back to him. Jer 16:16.
Christians who are called to Jesus are sent out to others. The Christian faith is people oriented. God loves people. Created them in his image. Died for their sins. How unlike God are we when we seek to avoid and isolate ourselves from all others.
Their lives and faith are not about them achieving the greatest happiness. It is a risky adventure of following God to reach others. If we are saved through faith in Jesus, spared from the flames of hell, forgive for our sin that merits God’s punishment, then shouldn’t we care about other people? Shouldn’t we want to go after others?
These are two primary observations from this passage, and now I want to talk about what it means for us. --Now I want to talk about Bridgeway Church specifically.--
It has to affect us in practical ways. We can talk about theology, belief, following Jesus as pie in the sky but it never impacts our day to day living, and that is dead wrong.
Justin Earley in his book The Common Rule highlight the disparity between our faith and our lifestyles.
“Only when your habits are constructed to match your worldview do you become someone who doesn’t just know about God and neighbor but someone who actually loves God and neighbor.” p16
“... We desperately need a set of counter-formative practices to become the lovers of God and neighbor we were created to be. p17.
Habits are what we do daily. It is how we live. The gospel has to change the way we live. Been convicted that so much of my discipleship over the years focused on right thinking, theology, but has not been about the right habits and lifestyle. I think teaching on habits is the only way we are going to evangelize this country. Each and every church member committing to do and live a certain way. Here are
Three habits disciples have in their lives.
Habit 1: A habit of reading, praying, and obeying God’s word.
Jesus speaks to us through his word. His commands and callings are in his word. Are we listening? His spirit testifies to the truth. We need to get in it, around it. Personally. His sheep hear his voice. We hear him in his word. (2 Tim 3:16, john 14, esp 21).
Are we positioning ourselves to learn from Jesus. When you have down time do you go to the television or your Bible. What do you do first thing in the morning? Have twenty minutes of quiet time before you do anything else. Read the Bible, write down what is important, underline what is important. Pray for where you need help in those things.
We are in a season of fasting. What can you give up to spend more time with Jesus. More time in his word.
What does it mean when we say we are following Jesus, but we are not willing to spend 15 minutes a day with him? Not very convincing.
Develop a reading plan (*available in back*). Read a chapter. Go through a book a of the bible. 30 chapters in proverbs. When fall off wagon. Stop what doing. Pick another book and go through it.
If you didn’t eat, or had a bad meal, you don’t just stop eating. Put it behind you and start over with the next meal.
Recognizing that you can have all the things in the world and you still have nothing! bYou can say you are following Jesus, but then in the very first step of reading his word/hearing his voice you fail. Make time for this.
Satan’s greatest attack may not be to assault the character of God but to distract us from him so that we never even think about it. Never take time to really consider. Jesus pulled away in morning to pray. We ought to follow him in that.
Habit 2: A Habit of attending and participating in life with believers.
Engagement in the community of believers.
The church is simply a gathering of people who have Jesus at the center of their lives and are working together to fan into flame the work he calls them to. The church does not exist when people are not willing to gather.
There is a problem when we binge watch a full season of The Office in one weekend but we can’t find time to meet together with friends to read our Bible and pray.
If gathering with other believers to learn about Jesus is core of discipleship, what does it mean when we are not willing to participate in that. We need to return to the basics. Church is more than once a week. It is about a community that knows each other and is pushing each other.
We are trying to get our small group ministry going. The goal is to get people into relationships with others in which they really know each other and are seeking to help each other. We need other people in our lives. If you have it all together, great, come lead a group, you will find out how much you don’t have it together. But this is part of the adventure of faith. Get around people who need help, then you see how you need help. Don’t be content to stand in isolation.
Is Jesus worth carving out that time. Are tending your boats more important than discipleship? Or maybe you have been hurt and don’t want to re-engage the church community. Is Jesus greater than the hurt you have experienced. Are you willing to leave it behind and follow him?
I’m praying for our church, for you, to be so hungry for God’s mission and to prioritize it so much that we are willing to jump hurdles to get with each other, study the Bible, talk about the sermon and what we learned and were challenged by. Push past the superficial and talk about your walk with God.
Can't make small group then call a friend and grab coffee or lunch. It will bless both of you!
The greatest thing you can do for someone is to draw them into a relationship with God and help them go deeper with him. Making a difference. Discussion questions. Small groups.
Habit 3: A habit of inviting people to learn about Jesus.
Jesus is calling these disciples to himself, calling them to be fishers of people, because he is going to use them to call more people to himself.
It means you are inviting people to learn about Jesus with you. Invite them to church, to small group, to do a Bible study that you are leading. This presumes that you are going to church, Bible study, small group, etc.
You may need to get to know them for months. Grab lunch with them. Share your hurts in life before you ever even invite them. But you should be on a trajectory of that.
Look for the “nots of life”. Things are not going well. I am not from around here. I did not expect that.” Opportunities to invite people. “Sounds like you could use some encoruagement. I find that at church and would love for you to come sometime.”
We particularly want to invite those who have no church to go to. Someone is in a church. Great! Let's go to those who have no where. It is going to take you making an effort to get to know them.
To do this you need to get over some things as a church. Yes, we are small. Yes, we don’t have a light show. Big youth meeting. But if we have Jesus we have so much to offer.
You may object by thinking “I’m not a pastor why do I do this.” First, you are a Chrisitan, you’re a fisher of people. Inviting is a reminder that your life is more important than just what you do for a living. It’s more than how much you make. George Bailey feeling like a failure and that his value in life is nothing more than his insurance policy. Dads, the greatest thing you can give your kids is interacting with them on their relationship with God. That is the deepest level of human relationships. Are you interacting with people in this way? It is absolutely important because it brings your central calling as a disciple maker into focus. It is a reminder to engage emotionally, spiritually with others, especially those closest to you.
This call to invite can be challenging and intimidating and will drive you to community. Who are you praying with on a regular basis? No one? Well how might your life, work, evangelism be changed if you had that. Who is pushing and sharpening you in your walk with God?
Who’s your one? Have you picked someone that you have a real opportunity to impact their life/ that you could invite to church. I’m not saying “have you evangelized them yet?” I’m saying “who are you praying for.” It starts there. Or have you tuned this out? Too self absorbed.
If we are going to move forward as a church we are going to have to do these things. We can not stand around thinking others are going to do it.
“Talking about Jesus while ignoring the way of Jesus has created an American Christianity that is far more American than it is Christian. Paying all our attention to the message of Jesus while ignoring his practices has not only led people like me into devastating life crises, it has also created a country of Christians whose practical lives are divorced from their actual faith. How else do we explain a country of Christians who preach a radical gospel of Jesus while assimilating to the usual contours of American life? P17 Ealy.
Jesus saves us from our sins. He also saves us from a self absorbed life that is focused only on our own wellbeing and comfort and brings us into a way of life that we get to know others on the deepest level of human relationships. He wants to use us to shape and transform others in our lives. What can be more exciting than that? But we have to heed his call to follow him in his way of life.
What is the biggest sacrifice you have made in following Jesus? What is the biggest sacrifice ahead of you now for following Jesus?
Do you think of following Jesus as a call to other people?
Which of the three habits are you most committed to? How can you pursue change in the other areas?