Revised, Invitation to Discipleship

Sermon: Invitation to Discipleship

Date: 1/15/2012

Gospel Text: John 1:43-51

Reference Text: Matthew 4:17-22

Reference Text: Luke 18:18-ff

The Holy Gospel according to St. John the 1st Chapter.

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Grace and Peace to you from God our father in Heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ

Sermon: Invitation to Discipleship

Date: 1/15/2012

Gospel Text: John 1:43-51

Reference Text: Matthew 4:17-22

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father in Heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you received an invitation….?

What as the invitation to…

A Party

A Wedding

A House Blessing

When I think of invitations, I think of all the wonderful time we spent on thinking who in our life could come and support us in our marriage… who would we invite to stand with us as we made our vows to one another… these would be the people we call on during both joyous and tough times… I also think the hours we spent on raised or flat lettering, weight of paper and the copious amount of time my wife spent trying to convince the Printer that my mother’s name went before my father’s name… apparently a Rev. Women and a Lt. Col. Man… threw this invitation printer for a loop… the man’s name goes first… not second…. But Rev. is more prestigious than Lt. Col…

We, my wife and I, have later joked… that.. we spent hours of our life on what shade of black ink we used… and 99% of these wound up in the garbage within minutes of opening and signing the RSVP card…

I mean what is an invitation anyways… Now and days, it seems, it is a…request of your presence…. it is a request to consume… come hang out, party and consume… food… drink… and Fun…. as young married couple… the coolest thing you could do… is go to other people’s weddings… to show off your new wedding-ness /or/ your newlywed glow… and then begin to share advice to the new newlyweds on the ins and outs of this thing called marriage… We found that we were more concerned about what type of dinner service… what type of drink service… and what type of liturgy…. We are Lutheran we like to eat and we were in Seminary, we love the liturgy…What can I say…

Don’t hear me wrong…Invitations have their place… and we go to support those we love and care about… But… the problem is not in:

the weddings…

the birthday parties…

or the cookouts…

The problem we face is we have somehow taken an invitation to consume and correlated it with church….

Church is not a place where all we do is consuming the fun stuff… church is a place where we bear fruit, which can be fun, and challenging… As Disciples we are created to produce for God’s kingdom…

How we can begin to understand our identity as disciples is by turning to Christ’s other disciples…

Turn with me to our Gospel text… John 1:43 and following… Jesus calls Phillip and says come follow me… I choose you… Phillip…

I will be your rabbi… Come watch… learn and imitate me… Jesus then calls Nathanael… who questions… what Good can come from Nazareth… Jesus tells Nathanael… I know you… I know who you are… and I know whose you are…. Come and follow me… you have what it takes to be my disciple…Nathanial knows this language… he knows he has been chosen… just chosen from a city different than he thought…

Find a pencil… underline in your bible, phrases “Follow me” and ” you will see greater things than these”—- if you don’t have a bible at home, please use these… these are tools of the faith, they are meant to be used.… these two phrases are key phrases for discipleship… come and follow me… come watch/learn what I do… and you will see greater things than these… because you will see yourself do some of the most amazing things… The heavens will open or in other words the Kingdom of God breakthrough and will come near…

But this is only part of the story… Turn with me to Matthew 4:17-22… this is the story of calling of some other disciples… .Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people. underline this phrase…follow me… Fish for people…. Another important phrase about discipleship….

In these two instances, when Jesus called his disciples… he called them… not to a one day a week job…

When Jesus called his disciples he called them not to just share their spiritual life… and keep the rest separate…

When Jesus called his disciples… he knew… each of them… their strengths and weaknesses… even before they knew him….

Jesus called them to give up their whole life… and turn it over to God… drop their nets, their way of life… To turn to God, in Christ Jesus…

Jesus called them to follow him… learn from him… watch what he did… not to just consume it… so they would be fed and happy…

They were to consume what they saw, heard and tasted… so that they could go and do likewise…

Could you imagine if the disciples… blue collar workers, mind you… just gave part of their life…. When they felt like it… or when it was convenient to them…

I can’t, I can’t imagine that because it scares me… it doesn’t scare me as a Pastor… it scares me as a child of God… it scares me as a disciple of Jesus Christ…it scares me because there are times in my life that I want to hold back… I want to say… God that is off limits to you… and that is when I realize that as a disciple of Jesus Christ…

I don’t just surrender the parts of my life that work for me… or that are cozy and comfortable…..and fit my schedule…

It is my whole life… the good…the bad… and the ugly… because God wants to use us…

God can’t use me or you to bring about the Kingdom until we surrender my whole life to God…. open ourselves us to be obedient to God…. God wants me and you for all that we are… the good the bad the ugly…

Jesus knows more about you than you may want him to know… but you know what is still constant…

Jesus still says.. I choose you… I want you to come and follow me…. Jesus says to each of you…

I want you to come and see greater things than these… Jesus wants to see you imitate his life… So you can be fishers of people… Producers of the faith… not just consumers of faith…

What if we shifted our language in our community from Consumptive to Productive… from worldly language to language of discipling…

Move from… The music moved me…which is consumptive to I surrendered to my nerves and boldly sang praises to God… which is productive…

Move from I got a lot out of worship to I surrendered myself up in worship today and opened my heart up for God to use me…

Move from I think I will go to church… if I have time… to I can’t wait to get to church…because I have something to share with the people there….

Move from what will you, the church the leaders, the pastors or staff, do for me… To what do I have to share with this church…the leaders, the pastors and staff…

You may not be a professional musician but you can still boldly lift your voice to God in song and praise…

You may not help lead worship up front… but you certainly lead worship and help make this worship happen all around you…

What is it about church that makes people scuff the ground and say… I rather sleep in… how can we, together, be a place where people want to come, and share their life with others here…no matter what day it is… .

Once we realize that worship and church are not about us… and about what we want… or about how we think it should be… Because we don’t worship ourselves… we worship God our lord and king… then we can begin to see that it is God who is at the center of our life and worship… it is God who is at the core or our existence who wants us to lead productive lives not consumptive lives…

Recently I heard, that we as God’s people work so hard out in the world to make it in the rat race called life, shuttle family around to all the things that we want to go to… that we are tired… burned out…. And just plain exhausted when it comes to the weekend….

all we want to do is come and bask in God’s grace… I don’t know about you… but maybe that means there is something wrong with our life….

Maybe… most likely…. probably…. we are working ourselves to bone for the wrong things and God is not the center… Maybe money or stuff or ourselves is at the center…. And that place is set aside for one… God… turn with me to Luke 18:18, Jesus did tell the rich man to sell it all and follow him… we can’t serve two masters…

Certainly, God wants us to abide and bask with God’s grace and peace…to fill our cup and tune into where God is blessing us… Not for our own enjoyment…but so that we are fed and nourished and can turn down the static of the world so we can hear where God is sending us… to re-present that same Grace and Peace… to this community of faith and to the broken and hurting world…

Here is my invitation to you…

If / When you are bored, burned out, or bummed in the ministry area you are in… get out… find one that excites or challenges you in your faith, life and relationship with others…

If you are not involved with a ministry area… find one every team we have needs  disciples to help lead, guide and be excited about… this month we highlighted evangelism See Jill H. to help out… if you need help joining a group just ask… I want you all to plug in…

If or when our community doesn’t have  something that excites you… start it…run with it… book clubs, dinner groups, bible studies, Sunday school classes… there is no reason we all cant plug in some way to this community and bear fruit for God’s Kingdom…

If you’re a visitor… you have every right to be involved with any ministry we have… please know you are always welcome…

God calls everyone to live productive fruit bearing lives…not just the pastors or leaders of the church… everyone that worships here and calls themselves Christian… is called by Jesus Christ to be a disciple of Jesus Christ… one who learns to imitate the life of their lord.

Could you imagine… if 150/200 people showed up to all team night… on fire as a disciple of Jesus Christ….

Could you imagine if we all invited 2 people to worship each week…friends, strangers, co-workers, classmates, family… not just once in a while or when we feel like it… but each week, each day… we would begin to pull people in to this community…

If…..180 people were inviting 2 each week is… 360 people receive invitations to productive relationship with God and with our community here at SMLC…

Could you imagine that no matter what meeting was being held that there is always an open seat at the table… so that visitors…. new and longtime…. young and older members …..Felt like they had could join in and be apart…

Can you imagine these things… I can… And….Together… we can move these from this sermon fodder to God’s reality….

 

WE can be to be a community that breeds, teaches, and lives productive lives of faith that are in tune with God…

 

The party is just getting started… Will you join us….

 

Written by the grace of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God.

 

Rev. W.S. Gibson

.

Reference Texts

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