Sermon: Series on Our Calling: #1: What’s all the fuss about call?
Scripture: Matthew 4.18-23
Preacher: Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Location: First Presbyterian Church, DeLand
Date: February 19, 2017
“What is God’s call on my life?” Have you ever asked that question of yourself before? For that matter, is it all about just “me” and “my call” or are my call and your call somehow intertwined and connected? Why make such a fuss about “call” to begin with this Lenten season?
These and similar questions are what we as a congregation are setting out to discover over the course of our upcoming Lenten journey. Although Lent officially begins Wednesday a week from now on Ash Wednesday, we are beginning our study on God’s call upon us a little earlier to ensure we can get it all in before Holy Week.
If you have not already heard, we are using a book throughout the congregation in class and small groups by Presbyterian pastor and President of Fuller Seminary, Mark Labberton, entitled, Called. The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today. It uses the Scripture as waypoints that help us understand what “call” is and helps us define what is most important to us as Christ-Followers. If you’re not in a group yet and want to be in one, let Michael or me know. We also have copies of the book for you as well.
Turn in your Bible to Matthew 4.18-23. We are picking up very early in Jesus’ ministry as he begins to gather followers behind him so that they too can learn what it means to be called by God. Listen to the Word of the Lord!
18As 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. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As 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. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23Jesus 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.
“Follow me.” Two of the most challenging, life-changing words a person can hear and obey. Oftentimes we hear those two words and hear them as words of possibility and potentiality. In other words, that if I do follow, then something may or potentially not happen. Jesus is inviting me if I so desire and maybe I will trot along haphazardly behind or perhaps I won’t. Maybe I’ll see what he’s talking about, or then again, perhaps I’ll settle for what’s safe and familiar.
The other way to hear those words, “follow me,” is to hear them, not as a possibility but as an imperative. We hear today’s text and think Jesus was just walking up to the four disciples inviting them to come along when in reality, he was not inviting them but was telling them, “Come on! Follow me! Get out of the boats right now and fall in behind as we have work to do!” Matthew has Jesus speaking in the imperative. He is not passively inviting the disciples to come along if they have a hankering to do so; he’s telling them to hurry up and jump on board because the train is pulling out of the station!
So, beloved, how do you hear Jesus’ words? He’s not offering an invitation; he’s giving a command to get on with it! We like Peter, Andrew, James and John have the choice to hop out of the boats and leave the family business or not. The deal is, however, once our feet hit the water, Jesus is expecting that we will follow right behind him in his footsteps.
Why does Matthew have Jesus make it an imperative to the disciples? Why couldn’t Jesus say, “Hey guys, you want to tag along and explore your inner spiritual dimensions and feel good about life?” I think Jesus uses the imperative voice for two reasons. First, he wants committed followers and not a self-interested tag-along. Second, Jesus uses the imperative because the call to “follow me” is not just about me but it’s more about me and you. It’s about us! We think that when Jesus calls us individually that it’s all about what he wants me to do or be; the fact is it is so much more than that!
Allow me let science instruct us at this point. In physics, there is a notion called quantum entanglement. Quantum entanglement occurs when two particles touch one another. Physicists discovered that when the two independent particles touched each other, they both began to affect the other particle’s behavior. So, if one particle moves, the other particle moves at the same time. Physicists call this “spooky science” because research has shown that this mutual action/reaction occurs regardless of the distance the particles are from one another, whether it’s across the room, across the country or even across galaxies! When one moves, the other reacts no matter where it is!
Following Jesus works in this same type of what I call spiritual entanglement.
When Jesus calls the four, he realizes that when he touches one, the others will respond. Andrew, Peter, James and John are the collection of spiritual particles Jesus brings together that he calls disciples. When their individual calls meet the call of Jesus in the other, they begin to create energy and movement. Jesus’ call to the disciples and their relationship with him and with one another created a powerful spiritual nuclear energy that is still being felt worldwide today! Peter’s leadership call will influence Andrews evangelism call which influences James’ devotional call and influences John’s Apostleship and gospel-writer call. In isolation, the first four disciples are given gifts but when they are brought together in community, their calls produce spiritual energy and results! Peter needs Andrew as much as he needs John’s mystical and western understanding of the Gospel message. Each of their calls relies on the call of the other.
This morning, our bell choir and voice choir practiced before the service. When they practiced on their own, the sound they created was music; however, it was only when they shared that music with the congregation did it become worship! The people in the choirs need the people in the congregation to hear their noise as worship! We need each other!
It’s right here in the dynamic interplay of our individual calls that the why of call begins to emerge. What’s all the fuss about Jesus’ call to you and me? The deal is this: We are told that when we answer the call to “Follow me,” we begin to enter into what Jesus calls abundant living.
Abundant living means we gain eyes to see a richness beyond material wealth.
Abundant living means we gain ears to hear the voices of people beyond the decibel range and hearing our culture tries to squelch.
Abundant living means growing arms to embrace the rich diversity of the people and environments that God created and placed around us that help you and me see beyond the monochromatic colors the world sees and divides people into. The monochromatic colors I’m referring to are seeing one another as solely black or white, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, pro-CNN or pro-FOX, Catholic or Protestant, or as Christian or Muslim.
Abundant living means using our feet to run to the aid of those beyond our society’s ability and desire to care for and minister.
Abundant living means we grow hearts that are filled with the lightness, joy, and love of God that move beyond the hardened arteries of a callous world whose motto seems to be, “Look out for Number 1!”
Abundant living is so much richer and fuller than simply living to get by. Yet, for us to claim the abundant living Jesus offers we are to respond to his words, “Follow me.” Mark Labberton writes, “Follow me”…is the primary call of God (upon all of us) that creates and defines the church. We bear authentic witness to God’s love when we demonstrate Jesus-following lives.” And how do we demonstrate Jesus-following lives? Labberton continues to say that you and I are invited to recenter our lives on Jesus Christ whose call is that we live differently than before we accepted the call to follow. “Whatever our context, our work, our relationships,” he says, “that is the primary thing we are to be about every day: Following Jesus. Our lives unfold daily amid beauty and horror and everything in between…(and that requires) the church – God’s people, are to be both agents of and evidence of that transcendence.”
The $64,000 question that faces us today is, Are you? Am I? Are we as First Pres DeLand? Are we agents of the Divine showing evidence that we are indeed a change people and community? Therefore, we are making a fuss about “call.” As Jesus begins his Lenten journey, he calls out to you, to me, to as a church: Follow me! Shall we?
Patrick H. Wrisley, D.Min.
Senior Pastor & Teaching Elder
First Presbyterian Church
724 North Woodland Blvd.
DeLand, Florida 32720
© 2017 Patrick H. Wrisley. Sermon manuscripts are available for the edification of members and friends of First Presbyterian Church, DeLand, Florida and may not be altered, re-purposed, published or preached without permission. All rights reserved.
 The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, 1995 by the 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.
Vince Stricherz, ‘Spooky action’ builds a wormhole between ‘entangled’ particles, from UW Today, December 3, 2013. Accessed from http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/03/spooky-action-builds-a-wormhole-between-entangled-particles/ on February 17, 2017.
 Mark Labberton, Called. The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today (Downers Grove: IL, IVP Books, 2014), 9.
 Ibid., 10.