Lectionary Readings for January 26, 2014. Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27:1, 4-9, 1 Cor.1:10-18, Matt. 4:12-23
Is your faith exciting enough to be contagious?
When Jesus calls out to Peter and Andrew, saying; "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people," they immediately drop their nets and follow. Jesus was exciting somehow, the men were receptive, and disciples were created.
Wow on many levels. Jesus obviously had the charisma, the attraction, and something desirable to offer. Andrew, Peter, James, and John were able to quickly make the decision to drop everything and follow.
Excitement, decisiveness, and action. Does it sound like the faith life of your church? Of you as you witness in your home or community? Where are you seeing the excitement of people following Jesus?
Anyone who's been part of a nominating committee, or trying to get people to come to a Bible study, or begging for volunteers to help out with an event or charity might read this story with longing and perhaps jealousy! Jesus calls, and the disciples answer. Why do so many of our calls, our messages, our asks on behalf of the church get met with rejection or reluctant acquiescence? Could it be that we are not excited enough, or joyous enough, or believing enough in what we are inviting others to join? Perhaps we miss the boat in the way we invite people into our ministries. Of course all the work church groups need isn't "exciting", but if we see it as meaningful and life-giving for others, it seems willing workers would find a way to say yes with joy. And where are the exciting, edgy parts of the work? Are there things people are waiting to be asked so that they can drop everything to get involved? There should be.
If we can't answer the question about what excites us about faith, we have a much more serious problem than empty spots on committees!
The Matthew account of the calling is sparse. The calling occurs early in the narrative, right at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, so here the disciples may not have seen miracles, or heard very much of Jesus' preaching or stories. It's hard for us to draw many conclusions about why the disciples were so quick to follow.
Perhaps one clue lies in the fact that the book of Matthew emphasizes the importance of teaching. Jesus, a rabbi, offers teaching about life with God to these fishermen and they are hungry for it!
What are people in our context hungry for, faith wise? I'll hazard a few guesses (obviously limited!) and say that people are looking for connection with others, for a sense of meaning in life beyond themselves, for hope for humanity and the planet, for an authentic connection with God that changes them. Faith is about growing toward God's kingdom.
Douglas Hare, New Testament scholar, says; "Our task is to share a faith that is exciting enough to be contagious." (Interpretation Bible Commentary. Matthew. John Knox Press. 1993. pg 31)
What excites you about your faith?