“Answering the Call,” Matthew 4: 18-22 and Genesis 12: 1-4

Who’s your one? SBC President J.D Greear raised this question in December: who is one person in your orbit that is far from God? One person who needs the new life that comes from knowing and accepting Jesus Christ? He followed the question up with a challenge: what are you going to do about it? If you recognize this about this person, what are you doing to make Jesus real to them in a powerful and life changing way? What will you commit to doing, will you commit to praying earnestly, to seeking a relationship with this person, to inviting them to church, to sharing the gospel with them yourself? Who’s your one, and how might recognizing who that person is change their life? And then he raised another question: why does that concept seem so foreign to so many of us? The Barna group recently released a study that found that only 8% of Americans talks about God, faith, religion, or spirituality once a week. Only 15% do it once a month. The average adult has about one of those conversations a year. Three-fourths of self-identified Christians have fewer than ten spiritual conversations per year. The last words of Jesus in Matthew are a call to go and make disciples, why is it that so many of us find that so terrifying? That’s what we’re going to look at over the next few weeks, we’re going to try and dispel some myths, provide some encouragement, and challenge ourselves to take seriously this question: Who is your one?

The first issue we’re going to tackle is a question of who it is that God calls and what it is that God calls those people to. We’re going to look at two call stories, the calling of the first disciples in Matthew 4 and then the calling of Abraham in Genesis 12.

My favorite kind of movie scene is a “Getting the Gang Together” scene, those scenes in westerns or heist movies or superhero movies where a team needs to be assembled to face some sort of job. Let’s imagine we’re robbing a bank, there are some people we’re going to need to make sure things are going to go well, a gang that we’ll need to put together to be successful. We need a driver, to get there on time and away quickly. We need an electrician/computer person (that might be two people) to deal with alarms and cameras and all that. We need crowd control, right, someone to keep the folks in the bank at the time occupied and not calling the cops. We need a safe cracker to get us to the money. We need a fall guy, someone who knows just enough that when we leave them behind the police think they’ve caught the mastermind while we run off to some country with good banks and weak extradition laws. That’s a lot of people. And if one of them isn’t up to the task the whole plan is blown and that means up to twenty years in federal prison and a $200,000 fine. If I had $200,000 I wouldn’t need to rob a bank. So if we’re planning this bank robbery we’re not going to mess around, we’re looking for the best

If we’re building a religious movement, who do we need? People who know scripture probably, that would help with arguments with other religious folk. People with some charisma, who can talk to a crowd. People with some social pull, who can get us in to the realm of the rich and famous and powerful. That word rich made me think that we would probably need someone with some money to finance this adventure if we’re going to be walking around not working. Compare that list to the team Jesus assembled. Half of them are fishermen, which is fine I guess, but have you ever smelled a fish? Imagine someone who is around them all day, every day, no one is going to want to talk to them. One of them is a tax collector, which maybe gets you in with Rome but alienates everyone else. Another is a terrorist so anyone we got on our side with the tax collector is out. None of them are scholars, none of them are politicians, none of them seem to have the skills or connections that are going to help this movement grow. And that’s the point.

What skill does Abram have that leads God to call him? We have no idea. As far as we know the only thing that makes Abram special is that when God tells him to pack up his family and go he does it. God doesn’t call the best he calls the willing. John McArthur said this about Jesus’ process of getting the gang together “God skipped all the wise of the day! The great scholars were in Egypt; the great library was in Alexandria; the great philosophers were in Athens; the powerful were in Rome. He passed over Herodotus the historian and Socrates the great thinker and Julius Caesar. He chose men so ordinary it was comical. No Rabbis, no teachers, no religious experts….” Jesus doesn’t choose the best, he chooses from rejects and traitors and criminals because the work he was calling them towards wouldn’t be done through their talents but from what he would do through them. If Abram already had twelve kids then God making him a great nation wouldn’t be impressive. If Jesus had the best or team and the most connected advisors and three dragons and an army of crazy horse people (two episodes left) what he did wouldn’t be understood to have come from his power. So our ability or (lack thereof) is not an excuse. God doesn’t need our abilities or our connections or our clever Game of Thrones references, God needs our willingness to let God use us. God needs us to drop our nets or pack up our families and trust that if we’ve been called then we will be equipped.

That’s the second thing we see in these texts, God chooses us, not the other way around. The way discipleship worked in these days was that if you wanted to follow a rabbi you would go find him and sit at his feet and he would quiz you and decided whether you were worth his time or not. Jesus moves that process back, these four disciples don’t come looking for him, he finds them. Abram doesn’t go into some temple and seek the blessings of God, God speaks to him. They decide what to do, the disciples could have kept on fishing, Abram could have stayed in Ur, but that response is to God reaching out. God chooses us. God chose, in the very beginning of scripture, not just to put Adam and Eve in a garden but to go and visit them in that garden. To walk with them and to talk with them and to tell whose they are. In the moments when you’re discouraged, when it all seems like too much, when the walls seem like they’re closing in, when you can’t figure out how to make your marriage or your job or your finances or your kids or whatever work, God chose you. And God isn’t going to abandon you to whatever it is you’re facing.

One last thing we see in both these stories. Jesus tells the disciples that he’ll make them fishers of men. God tells Abram that he is going to be blessed so that “all peoples of the Earth are blessed through you.” We are called to spiritually reproduce. There’s a book called The Master Plan of Evangelism, by Robert Coleman where he says, when it comes to bringing people to saving faith, life giving faith, in Christ, “Individual men and women are God’s method. God’s plan for discipleship is not something, it’s someone.” It’s everyone of us. What would it look like if we took that call seriously? What would it look like if every person in this room took seriously the idea that God’s plan Shelby and Grover and King’s Mountain isn’t something we might do, but someone? That God’s plan for this community is each and every one of us taking seriously the call to reproduce spiritually? That’s our challenge, our hope, is for this church to become a place of spiritual reproduction by identifying one person, that we can introduce to Christ. We’re going to look at the how’s of that and what’s of that, but what we need to start doing today if figuring out the who. Who is your one? Who is one person that you can commit to praying for and investing in them in hopes that that effort might bear fruit? That can seem intimidating. But God chooses us, God uses the willing, and God calls us to this task. And God won’t abandon us to face it alone.

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