Jesus Wants Us for Who We Are
In our work tackling budgetary concerns and discerning and articulating the mission of The United Methodist Church, the Connectional Table employs many theological values to guide its work. We publicize these values in various reports, but the nature of our work often denies us the opportunity to further explore or elaborate on what these values mean to us as followers of Christ. The Connectional Table will explore our values, faith and relationships with God, the Church and the world around us through weekly devotionals.
This week, Administrative Coordinator the Rev. Adrienne Stricker reflects on James and John leaving their father to follow Jesus and what this story means for us today.
As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. — Mark 1:19-20
James and John quickly leave their father with the nets and the boat; scripture offers no commentary on their father’s feelings. Mark’s sense of urgency in moving the story forward doesn’t allow the reader to dwell too long on family members. Action is always immediate. Even if Zebedee doesn’t understand Jesus’ meaning when he calls Zebedee’s sons to leave everything behind, he is there when Jesus sees some trait or characteristic in them that merits his invitation. Sitting in the boat mending nets after a long day’s work, Zebedee may hope he has prepared his sons well enough.
Jesus meets the two men where they are, both physically and vocationally. He comes to their setting. He does not seek out government officials or people who will elevate his status. He approaches fishermen who have spent their entire adult lives perfecting skills on the water. Nothing about their lifestyle is easy or predictable; perhaps that makes them ready for a life of discipleship. Jesus issues the call to discipleship not as a blind following but as a choice to use experiences, skills and culture for God’s glory.
This is good news for us because God calls us to follow and learn in our varied vocations. Jesus calls us to transform our world by living in justice and compassion, using the skills we have developed and the language we know. Only then can we meet people where they are. Our experiences, stories and culture shape us so that when we face a new challenge or calling, we can step forward with confidence— immediately.
Prayer: Life-giving God, may we use everything we are to follow you. Thank you for the experiences that have shaped us; be with us as we grow in your grace. Amen.