Thursday, January 23, 2020

Refections for Youth - Ordinary Followers

This is not the actual car I saw... but the bumper sticker was the same.  

I was driving to work the other day and I was following a car that had a bumper sticker that read: "Are you following Jesus this close?"

You've seen them right?  Bumper stickers about Jesus. Some of them are actually pretty funny.  Here are some of my favorites:

"I bet Jesus would have used HIS turn signal"
"Jesus is coming, look busy!"
"Jesus loves you but I am his favorite"

The one about following Jesus week reminds of the scriptures we have been reading these last few weeks. Last week we read the Gospel of John's account of Jesus calling the disciples. (You can click here to read last week's Reflections).

This week, as we follow the lectionary through Matthew's gospel - we get a different version of how Jesus invited his followers to join him in his ministry.

Read Matthew 4: 12-23

So, John the Baptist has been arrested and Jesus is living in Capernaum by the sea. The passage says that Jesus is beginning to preach and is telling people to "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come near."  Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee where he meets Andrew and Simon who are fishing. He invites them to "follow me" and tells them that he will make then fishers of men. The scripture says they immediately left their nets, follow Jesus, and become disciples.  This version is very different than what we read last week. There is no conversation and no one is hanging out with Jesus before they decide to go. They just go. These ordinary people, for reasons that we don't know, drop everything and immediately follow Jesus.

I am reminded again about how God, throughout the Bible, calls regular, ordinary people to do amazing things.  The word ordinary means something that is not special. Something or someone that does not stand out and is not hard to find.  A lot of people aspire to not be ordinary, right? We want to be amazing and do important things.

If you think about it, most of us assume that teachers are looking for the best and the out-of-the-ordinary people to be their students. In Jesus' time, this was true as well. The religious leaders sought out only the best students to learn in the Jerusalem temple.

But of course, Jesus did the opposite.  Jesus was in an ordinary town and called some ordinary fishermen to be his disciples.  Jesus was a teacher that wanted to show and teach the disciples all about God's love so they could then teach about it, too.  We know that Jesus was not ordinary from scripture stories that tell about the things that he did that were amazing and miraculous. So, it's easy to think that we can't possibly follow Jesus because we would never be able to do those things. But Matthew's gospel reminds us of what Jesus thought about ordinary people. He thought everyone could do what he could do. Jesus believes that everyone is able to do amazing things. And that should give us hope for our ordinary selves. 

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