March 8, 2014
Mark 1: 14-20
I grew up in a Christian home, so my coming to faith was a gradual process. Over time I grew into the faith to which I was exposed from my earliest days. For others the conversion experience is more sudden and dramatic – something more in line with what happened to the Apostle Paul in Acts 9.
But no matter the timeline or the process of conversion, for all believers there is an immediacy to the call of Christ. Even for me there came a moment when the truth of the gospel broke into my young life, and I realized there was something I was supposed to do with it. Better said, there came a moment when I realized that the message I had been hearing all my life wanted to do something with me. In that moment Jesus became more than just an idea or even just a person; He was the Truth who was asking for a response.
The call of the first disciples was immediate. In some ways Peter and Andrew and James and John had spent their entire lives preparing for this moment. As faithful Jews they had been taught from their earliest days that God was going to send His chosen one to come and set His people free. Yet, nothing could have fully prepared them for this moment; Jesus didn’t exactly match up with anyone’s expectation. He intercepted them on their normal path and sent their lives careening off in a new direction they could have never predicted.
The way Mark tells it, Jesus simply walks up and says, “Follow me.” There is no effort to connect that call to some deep longing or some previous experience. Jesus doesn’t say, “Dear friend, I understand you have been searching for deeper meaning in life. Why don’t you come with me and see if that does the trick?” He doesn’t say, “I hear you’ve been questioning whether God is real. Come and let me show you.” The call is not stated as response to some felt need on Peter’s part. The call is just made. “Follow me.”
The call of Christ comes with its own inner authority. He has no need to make that call fit into our preconceived ideas or into the questions that we have decided to seek out. Just as the resurrection could not have been predicted on the basis of anyone’s previous experience, the very call of the gospel interrupts and disrupts our settled lives. “Follow me,” Jesus still says.
Everything hinges on what we do with that invitation.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for all the ways that we try to squeeze you into our neat little boxes. Set us free this day to hear again your liberating call to come and follow you. Enable us to hear your call on your terms, instead of insisting that it come on ours. Thank you that you continue to call us today. By the power of your resurrection, Amen.