(paraphrased: Rob Bell- Nooma video “Dust” with my own content added)
It’s not always easy to do the right thing, and not just with the big stuff, but with the small, subtle stuff too, or when no one is watching. Many times in this modern world we don’t feel it’s even possible. How many people would say that it’s not even possible to stay abstinent today? Or that it’s impossible not to curse? Or it’s impossible to go your entire life without smoking marijuana? Or it’s impossible to not ever have a one-night stand? Or to never covet, or lie, or cheat, or steal? ….today we accept these things as ordinary, and even look down upon those who do not join us in our version of normal. For those who remain sexually pure can be called prude condescendingly, and laughed at. For those who won’t take part in alcohol, or join in throwing eggs at your ‘evil’ teacher’s car, or join in gossiping…they have a much harder time staying away from those things than if they just went with the crowd, don’t they? But I think accepting certain things as “normal” or some things as “impossible” is just a weak excuse. It’s an excuse to do anything we want, and ignore the consequences because we’ve convinced ourselves that we are weak and have no self-control. We are so willing to sign over our free will to society itself, letting the collective whole make our decisions for us. This is really a shame, because those decisions, in response to the endless choices we face, are what makes us who we are.
Did you ever really think of faith as a two way street? Meaning that we not only believe in God, but that he believes in us as well? Have you ever stopped to think that God believes in YOU? …that God believes that you can be like Him, that you can live the kind of life He lived, that your face can look like His, that you can be a person of love, compassion, truth… That you can be a person of forgiveness, and peace, and grace, and joy, and hope? Would it be easier for us to do the right thing if we knew that we COULD do it, that we were MADE to?
If you think about what life was like where Jesus grew up, He was a Jewish rabbi, with Jewish disciples, in the 1st century. In Galilee, they believed that God gave Moses the first 5 books of the Bible, the Torah, which was the very foundation of their lives and education system. Kids started school at age 6 in the synagogue where they learned the Torah and by the time they were 10 years old they had it memorize word for word. Word. For. Word. All of it. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. At that point most kids would apprentice under their parents and learn the family business, while the smartest and best kids would continue their education, and by the time they were 14 or 15, they would have the rest of the Hebrew scriptures memorized as well. After that the best of the best would become a rabbi’s disciple, and would leave everything behind and devote their lives to following their rabbi, being like their rabbi, and doing what their rabbi does. If the rabbi thought the child had what it takes, he would say, ‘come, follow me.’ Back then a rabbi would begin teaching around 30 years old. So imagine Jesus, around that age, walking down a beach, walking up to Peter and Andrew, who are 2 ‘nobodys,’ 2 ‘not-good-enoughs,’ while they are fishing. Imagine Jesus asking them to drop their nets and follow him, saying, “I think you could do what I do.” “I think you could be like me.” Jesus does the same with James and John who are apprenticing under their father, fishing with him and learning the family business. Here are 2 more ‘nobodys,’ yet they are the ones Jesus wants. These disciples are 15 or 16 yrs old, 20 yrs old at most, and yet they change the course of human history.
The calling to follow Jesus is for everyone- the young, the old, the poor, the rich, the educated, the uneducated, the sick, the healthy, the popular, the wallflowers, the jocks, the computer nerds…. Everyone.
When Jesus walked on water out to his disciples in the boat in the middle of a storm, at first they were terrified and thought it was a ghost. Then Peter tells Jesus that if it is really Him, then he will tell Peter to walk out to Him. Peter was being a good disciple. He saw his rabbi doing something, and so he wanted to do it as well. If Jesus was walking on water, then Peter wanted to walk on water. He got out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus, but soon began to sink, and when Jesus caught him, he said “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” But if you look at it, Peter did NOT doubt Jesus, Jesus was not the one sinking. PETER DOUBTED HIMSELF. Jesus believed in him, chose him from the very beginning because He knew Peter could be like Him, but Peter doubted that he could be like his rabbi.
In the 1st century, a rabbi’s disciples would follow him up and down dirty, dusty roads, and essentially would be covered by the dust that is kicked up by their rabbi’s feet in front of them. So may you, be covered in the dust of your Rabbi. And may you realize, when you are sinking, letting insecurities plague your life, it is because of YOUR doubt in yourself, NOT Jesus’ doubt in you. May you, when you feel “not good enough,” when you feel unnoticed, or invisible, or unworthy, or too young to make a difference,…remember who Jesus chose, and consider what message he gave us by doing that. May you remember that the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living WITHIN you.
May you accept your greatest calling-to be like Christ, and may you believe in your own ability to change lives, to change the world.