Beyond The Pulpit

At worship this past Sunday, we talked about the extraordinary way that Jesus, the rabbi, called his first four students.

By Rev. DUANE COATES
United Methodist Pastor

At worship this past Sunday, we talked about the extraordinary way that Jesus, the rabbi, called his first four students. Since most of you weren’t privy to that sermon, I want to share with you what it might mean for our community.

From the record in the first three gospels, we assume this was the first time Jesus met Peter, Andrew, James and John. He didn’t immediately tell them he was the one anointed to bring their salvation. So, we can’t surmise that these apostles followed him to buy some insurance against the fires of hell. They simply joined to become “fishers of people.” Their response to this non-specific invitation was dramatically swift. The Scripture says that “immediately,” they dropped everything and joined the Jesus rabbinical school.

That was quite a commitment, even then. They learned to imitate Jesus, took his “yoke” upon them. They let their homes be his home, and his work became their work. Although half of these first students couldn’t even afford a boat, Jesus made them into incredible leaders and teachers who defeated an empire by transforming the world to crave theological light and seek the good. For centuries, people have been clamoring for what they had – what Jesus offered them for free – an opportunity to make their lives extraordinary. By simply following and learning from Jesus, certain people have become extraordinary leaders, extraordinary producers, extraordinary friends and lovers.

Half a world away and two millennia later, we still can have an opportunity to live such extraordinary lives of transformative leadership. Jesus wasn’t frozen in an old religious book. He still lives and still calls all of us to participate in the preferred future that God has for our community.

I believe God is painting a picture of that future, and I long to see what extraordinary beauty it will contain when we choose to become God’s brushes. By “we,” I mean not just United Methodists, not just Protestants. This opportunity exists for all who choose to follow Jesus. When we followers make ourselves radically available to God’s will, when we become servants at God’s banquet, clay in the Potter’s hands, what beauty will God create through us?

I’m praying for an answer to that, and I invite you to pray with me. Pray that this picture will be unveiled here and that others might catch a glimpse of the role they can play in painting this picture.