Help Wanted: No Special Skills, But Experience Needed

Last Sunday we talked about discipleship in the context of Jesus sending forth seventy “others.” (Luke 10: 1-20) Who exactly were these others? I suggested on Sunday that maybe they were specially trained ninja type disciples ready to strike with the Gospel message that the Kingdom of God was near. The must have had extreme abilities to face down doubters, skeptics, naysayers, and people that would persecute them. They surely were incredibly articulate, able to “win” any and all theological arguments. The seventy had to be gifted beyond ordinary people, for they were walking with God incarnate, Jesus the Christ. On the other hand maybe the seventy were none of these things.

When we look at the people that God has chosen to lead we find an unlikely lot. Starting as far back as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and David, God has called unlikely people to lead and minister to people. Often we use the false idea that Biblical leaders, including the seventy others, were somehow special, more gifted, and above reproach as an excuse to not do as we feel led. We believe that since we are not specially gifted, like they were, we must not be called to do anything great for the Kingdom of God.

Our excuse falls apart when we realize that Adam and Eve were disobedient and disloyal (The topic of a different future post), Abraham tried ways to further God’s plan on his own, Moses had a speech impediment, and David murdered. When we look at the seventy others we find that they were no more or less special than any of us. They had the same gifts, guidance, abilities, charms, and grace that are available to people today. Through God’s grace they went forth following God as best they could. They focused on the other; healing and witnessing to God. They took a brave step, trusted in God, and did the work that needed to be done, announcing that the Kingdom of God was near.

Who are these seventy others? Seventy is ten times the perfect number of seven. I believe that the writer of Luke used the term seventy to indicate lots and lots of people. So the seventy were lots and lots of people called by Jesus to do the work of God in a broken, lost, and hurting world. The seventy had the experience of God working in their hearts and lives and they knew that when God begins working in your heart your heart gets filled with love. This makes me thinkā€¦

Have you had the experience of God in Three Persons working in your heart and life? Have you felt the love of God filling your heart? Do we live in a broken, lost and hurting world? Imagine what would happen if we allowed the love that God is pouring into us to overflow and spill out onto the people around us. Imagine the lost, the broken, and the downhearted receiving love from God through us! You see if you answered yes to the previous questions you are part of the seventy being sent out to the world. We are called to be the Body of Christ. This is an exciting and thrilling call. For in being the Body of Christ we are given the opportunity to go forth and touch people in Jesus’ most Holy Name.

This is this pastor’s opinion. What’s yours?

Prayerfully,

Pastor Tom

“Everyone I Know Has a Big But.”

The title of this post is a quote from Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. In the scene of the quote Pee Wee is talking with a woman who has big dreams and goals but also has many reasons to not pursue her dreams. Everyone has those things in their lives that can hold them back from attaining their dreams. We need to move past those things that are holding us back, ridding ourselves of our buts and achieving all the potential God has planted within us.

Yesterday’s sermon was titled, “Yes, but…” The people that were being called to follow Jesus, in Luke 9:57-62, all answered , “Yes, but…” They indicated that they wanted to follow and then gave excuses why they were not going to follow. These excuses, the buts in our lives, interfere in our relationship with God effectively separating us from God. When we separate ourselves from God we lose touch with all that is good and right in the world. We begin to lose the ability to truly transform the world for the fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth.

We are all being called to be in ministry, whether parish ministry as a member of the clergy or as a lay person reaching into their neighbors’ hearts and hurts. It is not uncommon to deny the call to ministry. It took me quite a while to truly accept and follow Jesus’ call into full-time ministry. Once I followed where I was being led the results were amazing. This is not to say that everything has been easy and stress free. The results of following are a deeper relationship with God in Three Persons and more meaningful relationships with my family, friends, and my neighbors. From these relationships, based in God’s love, spring forth the miracles of God. Jesus promised that we would do greater things and it through these relationships, that come from following where Christ is leading, that the power to do greater things comes from.

Jesus is leading and wanting us to follow. We are each being called into ministry. Bishop Joe Pennel refers to this calling as, “Being the priest to the person at our elbow.” In this calling we have no excuse. We need to follow the call, walking as Jesus walked, living as Jesus lived, and loving as Jesus loved. Let us all drop our buts, focus on Jesus’ back as he leads us forward into discipleship.

This is this pastor’s opinion, what’s yours?

Prayerfully,

Pastor Tom