PATTERNS // Sara Wolbrecht // Mark 1:16-20 // May 3, 2015
Before we turn to our passage of Scripture for today, to get us started I have a question for you – and a few of us had this conversation before we launched worship on March 29th, but it’ll be new for most of us. Here it is: have you ever watched a “How To” video? Watched a video to learn how to do something. I’ve seen how to peel hard-boiled eggs, how to cut a pineapple. I’ve looked up how to knit, how to caulk our bathtub, open the garage door when the power is out (because I was trapped!). What “How To” videos have you seen?
I wondered how many “How To” videos are on YouTube. Turns out: 158,000,000. I watched a few that came up. I learned the right way to eat sushi, and how to cut a rope in an emergency.
Many of the videos on YouTube have been watched 8 million or even 15 million times. People use them, right? We use them! They’re everywhere. And the fact that they are produced and used so prolifically, it points us toward something that is true about how we learn.
To really learn something – particularly more than just facts – the reason we find “How To” videos, the reason we take lessons and classes from actual people who show us things, the reason we’re required to do internships and to be mentored, the reason we pay attention when we’re cooking something with someone who knows what they’re doing – we do that because we need to observe actual demonstration. Someone doing the thing we want to be able to do. We need a pattern to follow. Not just information or step by step instructions (because how often do we actually READ instruction), but we need a living example. Right? Would you say that’s accurate for you?
Alright hang on to that little piece for a few minutes and we’ll come back to it. And now we turn to our passage of scripture – we are 16 verses in to the gospel of Mark, at this pace we’ll be done in 2018. Just kidding. We’ll pick up the pace soon. Maybe.
To review: Two weeks ago we began to pay attention to the voices in our heads. We named how we have a story that we’re telling ourselves – often dominated by critical, untrue, nagging voices. But we have a choice as to what voices we pay attention to. And we began to hear a different voice. The voice of God, these words that are spoken at Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River – Jesus comes out of the water, he receives the Holy Spirit, and God speaks, saying: “This is my son. I love him. With him I am well pleased.” God says this to us, before our feet hit the floor in the morning, no matter what we’ve done, achieved, failed at, proven – God loves how he made YOU. We are the beloved of God. THAT is who we are. And we continue to pay attention to THAT voice, and live from THAT place. Which is hard, intentional work. But so worth it.
Then last week! We learned together the only 2 questions we need to ask as people who find the life of Jesus compelling and who want to live lives of beauty and authenticity and joy and purpose – we really ask lots of questions but the two at the center of our lives are these: What is God saying to me? And what am I going to do about it? All this we distilled out of Jesus’ first words, where he let folks then and us now know that the kingdom of God, God’s hope and reality for the world is here, and we get to bump up against these moments in our lives where God grabs our attention and we can choose to attend to that moment, and step more deeply into the Kingdom of God. These moments are called Kairos moments (the Greek word for time).
Now to set up this week. Let’s hear those first words from Jesus again:
Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
So Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is here, and then what is the very first thing he does? That’s what we look at now. Spoiler alert: Jesus starts gathering his people, his disciples. That’s the first order of business. So now let’s hear and imagine what this was like as Jesus calls two sets of brothers, four of what will be his 12 disciples… He is in Galilee and walks on down to the water…
Mark 1:16-20 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
We have to notice this – Jesus could have just done all the stuff he needed to do by himself because after all, he is God. But Jesus chooses to not do it alone. Because, he’s showing us that: Life is a team sport! Not a solo mission! Life together, that is where this whole business begins. Don’t you love that? In the Kingdom of God, step one is: we do this together. Now let’s zoom in to take a closer look at the details of this calling of disciples, then we’ll zoom out and see what this means for us.
First, we have the brothers, Simon and Andrew. Jesus runs into them along the shore so they are net fishing, which means they throw a net into small inlets along the shoreline where fish often hang out. Simon and Andrew probably came from a family of fishermen, as they fished together as brothers.
Then the second set of brothers, James and John, they are actually out on the boat with their dad and hired hands – a large, lucrative, family production. So they clearly are from a family of fishermen.
Now, in our culture, are we expected to take on the job of our father? No. There are exceptions, but we live in a culture, a country and a time where we can choose what vocation, job we want and change that if we want. We need to remember that that is not the case in the Middle East in the first century (it is also not the case for millions of people in our world TODAY – we are incredibly privileged by the choices we have – and that’s a whole other conversation). We don’t know how many generations of fishermen were in the Zebedee family, but this is what they do, this is who they are, this is all they know and all they can imagine.
So it is a big stinkin deal when they drop their nets and say, Sure, Jesus-guy who just came here from Nazareth. We’ll go with you! They are leaving behind everything, their whole world – including their dad in the boat.
So – why? Right? This is the question we need to ask. Why would they leave every piece of life, familiarity, security they had? And maybe also the question: for what? For what did they leave everything. And the answer is not for them to actually go and literally fish for people. Because that’s just weird and painful.
So why and for what? Whenever we read scripture, what do we keep in mind? There’s always…more than meets the eye. Thank you, Transformers.
This phrase “Follow me” is the key. “Follow me” was a common phrase in Jesus’ day. Jewish rabbis would choose students who would become their disciples and learn how to be a rabbi. This was a prestigious honor to be chosen. And rabbis would say, “Come, follow me, be my follower.” Jesus is using that language here. He’s is not technically a Jewish rabbi. ALTHOUGH he has just – as we talked about last week – said this big-deal thing that the Kingdom of God has arrived, that the promises of God that are echoed throughout the Old Testament, and what the people of Israel had been longing for for thousands of years was actually starting to happen. The Kingdom of God was close enough to reach out and touch – and Jesus said he’s the guy.
So, Jesus is saying, “Follow me, become my student.” But why did these guys say yes? Because they think Jesus really is the guy, the promised person who is God, the Messiah who came to fix the mess they’re in. AND they said yes because they want to see what this Kingdom of God is really like.
To bring it back to our “How to” video discussion, these brothers said yes so that they could have a pattern, an example, a person to show them how to live this life of God, how to live in the Kingdom of God. Yes, I’m saying that Jesus is like the best How-To video ever.
They jumped at that chance. They said yes to becoming students, learners of Jesus. That’s what the word disciple actually means. Disciple = means to literally be a learner. An apprentice. It’s not a particularly churchy word, though that’s where we usually hear it.
…And so what does this mean for us? If you’ve been around the church then you know that this word disciple is not just for 12 dudes 2000 years ago. It is a word and an identity and an invitation that is extended to us, too. Jesus says to me, to you – Come, follow me. And as we hear this, can we together, lay aside the baggage that goes with that language of being a disciple of Jesus – I’m talking about the ways that people have said yes to this throughout history to then twist Jesus’ pattern of life in unfortunate, painful, and destructive ways. Can we try to lay aside all of that and hear this as a fresh word from God for us?
Because this is not about following rules, but about following Jesus into a way of life. That’s what Come, follow me is all about. A way of life. Jesus, like a traditional rabbi, shows his disciples how to do everything that he does. But not only that. Here is where the How-To video analogy falls short. It is not just learning the motions, the behaviors of what to do – it is not just behavior modification, right? Not just DOING. But Jesus also shapes our interior world, who we are. Jesus is interested in heart transformation, too. It’s also about BEING. Already we’ve seen Jesus show us some of this – those voices in our heads, how we choose to pay attention to the voice of God. We are God’s beloved kids. That shapes who we are and if we let it, it shapes the way we live in the world.
So the invitation is out there for all of us, too. Come, follow me. It is not just a one-time, give your heart to Jesus moment, but it is an on-going, dynamic, DAILY choice to follow, to learn, to examine the life of Jesus, to see it as a pattern to follow. And as we’ve talked about, paying attention to Kairos moments and letting the two questions guide us: God, what are you saying to me? And what am I going to do about it?
This is the life of a disciple. And what we’re describing here is then discipleship. Discipleship is not about following all the rules, or all of us trying to look and act and be the same. But discipleship =, as defined by theologian Dallas Willard, is: becoming who Jesus would be if he were you. Who Jesus would be with your job, and family, and skills, and resources, and your love for Game of Thrones, or your passion for hiking or gaming or healthy living. So your version of becoming like Jesus is different than the gal sitting next to you. That’s the beautiful reality of the Kingdom of God. All kinds of people are a part of it. And God wants YOU as a part of it, not some washed-out version of you.
And here at Salt House, discipleship is the center of what we’re trying to do here. Jesus, is at the center. We find the life of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to be something that we want to look at, ask questions about, become a part of and let it form our lives – we want to be disciples of Jesus. And you may be like YEAH! Let’s go for it! Or you may be just showing up because there are people here and you’re curious. Or somewhere in-between. That is fantastic. We’re all in different places. Together we’ll keep unpacking what this way of life is like.
So – now to finish out our time together I want to give an example of some of this pattern-stuff of discipleship that I’ve been hinting about – one of the patterns that our structure of life and ministry at Salt House is based on.
There are particular rhythms to how Jesus lived that are so helpful and accessible for us to imitate. Pull out your pen and insert for these next few minutes. And here is one of them: Jesus lived a life of balance. Just to check in with yourself for a moment: how balanced does your life feel right now? On a scale of 1 to 10. (Write in the middle of the triangle).
Specifically, Jesus held in balance the three primary relationships he had. His three great loves. You see it in how he spent his time, balancing his time: time spent with God (Jesus took time alone to pray and talk with God), spending time with his close friends, his disciples (eating together, learning, sharing life), and spending time in the world with people of great need (teaching, healing, standing up for the oppressed, feeding the hungry). Jesus held those primary relationships in balance. One way to picture this is the points on an equilateral triangle (picture). His relationship Up (God) with God, In (Friends) with friends, and Out (Needs) in the world. Do you see that?
For us, as people who are trying to live a life like Jesus, we too can pay attention to how we balance our time in our relationships. What number did you write down there in your triangle? Now I want you to reflect on those three areas of relationship – on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate each of these relational areas. How are you connecting with God, to hear God speaking in your life, to read, to pray, to hike. Then how about time spent with family and friends, with your “In” people, people who love you and encourage you, but who also call you out when you need it. And what about engaging with people in need? Whether helping out your neighbor next door, serving as a volunteer, living beyond yourself. How does each area look right now, and are those three relationships in balance for you – or not? How is that all looking? Take a minute and turn to someone near you really quick to hear what their strongest area is, and share with them what yours is.
This is an incredibly easy tool to use to follow the pattern of Jesus. We need those three relationships to help us maintain balance. I know for me right now, my “In” is not very strong. We moved back here from California in August and we’re still figuring out who our friends are, our people. And I can feel that imbalance in my life. Is there a weak area for you that you, too, now realize are causing a sense of imbalance, where you could pay attention?
Salt House, we try to balance those relationships as a whole community (in the way we structure ministry) and as we also pay attention to those rhythms in our individual lives. And instead of using the language of Up, In, Out, we capture it using the words: Come, Thrive, Go.
Come. Hear the invitation that God always extends to us to draw closer to God. We come to Salt House as a place to be in worship and to hear God. Come and remember who we are. We are salt. We are beloved, blessed, forgiven, salty, fun-loving people who embody the life of Jesus here and now. The invitation to come back to the place of knowing that.
And thrive. The “in” part is being community together. Be and belong in a community of others who are asking questions and having fun and figuring out how to live faithful, authentic lives like Jesus did. A place to be real with one another and ask the big questions of life. We’re trying to do that. We have fun events on the calendar, we share in dinner twice a month. And we’re working to develop growth groups, studies, places to connect and learn from Jesus together and process our kairos moments. Thrive.
And Go. As followers of Jesus we are sent people. We don't just exist as a community for the sake of ourselves, but God sends us to be present with people in need. And so at Salt House we're listening for how we can be a blessing to the south Rose Hill neighborhood, and then for each of us as we go about our week in our particular circles and spheres of influence. What’s so cool is that some of y’all live in this neighborhood, you are on the front line of being the eyes and ears to see what God is already up to in this neighborhood. We see ourselves as sent people who GO.
Come, Thrive, Go. Together, we live the patterns Jesus lived. A pattern to follow as we choose to be disciples, learners of Jesus.
The band is coming back up, and we’re going to carve out some time to sit with this as they lead us in a song – you can sing along, or you can take a quiet moment to ask that question: God, what are you saying to me, and to us? Maybe jot something down or put something on your calendar for the week.
Let me pray for us as we settle into a few moments with God...