12:1-12; Matthew 9:9-13
Iím really not a big fan of movingÖ Itís really not a lot of fun! Iím sure that some of you happen to be under the misguided delusion that I simply canít wait to put all of my possessions into boxes and trucks and drive them 8 miles down the road to inhabit 6 Susan Rd. Not that thereís anything wrong with 6 Susan Rd. In fact, Iím looking forward to living at 6 Susan Rd. Itís just the moving part that Iím not really looking forward to. Not that Iím complaining, mind youÖbut all of us have been through moves, and know the difficulties and hard work which accompany a move.
Perhaps I donít like moving because it seems like weíve moved a lot in our short five years of marriage. Five years ago, after our honeymoon, we moved many of our belongings to New England Frontier Camp in Lovell, Maine for the summer to serve in the kitchen and on administrative staff. At the end of the summer, we moved all of our belongings into Young Apartments on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College, to finish up our degree programs. A year and a half later, we packed all those belongings up and moved to Topsham, ME to serve at the Brunswick Church of the Nazarene. Two and a half years after that, we packed once again to move to South Portland, in order to follow Godís call to serve here in Cape Elizabeth. And now, only one year and one month later, we begin packing up once again, to move to 6 Susan Rd. I think there are boxes we didnít even open since the last move! Iíd like to think that I have moving down to a science, and that God would stop asking me to practice the skill for a good long time!
The problem with moving, is that you have to pack everything up, while
you continue to live your life. Itís
hard to cook when your kitchen is in boxes.
Itís hard to sleep with the knowledge that the slightest earthquake
could topple towers of boxes and belongings with a crash.
Itís even hard to get dressed in the morning, wondering where that
favorite outfit is. Moving forces
the organization of our lives to change, and it disrupts the normal patterns and
routines of our lives. We tend to
be creatures of habit, and enjoy the daily rituals and patterns that define our
existence. Moving disrupts all of
that, forcing the reorganization of our lives, ending old rituals and beginning
new ones. Perhaps that is why many
of us resist moving.
And then, just when Iím tempted to get discouraged, I hear a scripture
text like our Gospel lesson today. Imagine
Matthew sitting at his tax collecting booth, doing his work, and making money. Without any introduction, a stranger walks up to him and
says, ďFollow Me.Ē Jesus
doesnít tell Matthew His name, where Heís going, or what life will be like
when they get there. He simply
says, ďFollow MeĒ and Matthew simply gets upÖand follows.
He doesnít ask questions or go talk to his best friend about it, he
just responds to the call, and does what Jesus asks of him.
Imagine such a drastic change in your life.
Imagine leaving behind all that you own, all that you love, and all that
you hold dear to follow someone youíve never met, going where youíve never
been, and doing what youíve never done. This
move in Matthewís life meant a great restructuring and reorganizing of his
life. No longer consumed with making money at the tax booth, there
would be days ahead when Matthew wouldnít have a place to sleep, or food to
eat. Instead of robbing from others
as tax collectors were prone to do, Matthewís very being would soon be focused
on meeting the needs of others, instead of his own. Indeed, following Godís call meant a complete
reorganization of his life, around new values and guiding principles.
Matthew was not the only one recorded in Scripture who was given a call
from God simply to follow where He leads. Hear
these words from Genesis chapter 12:
The Lord had said to Abram,
"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the
land I will show you.
are three things I notice about the call of God in these passages of Scripture.
As we look at Abram and at Matthew, we recognize these qualities in
common. The call was simple:
God only told them what they needed to know right now.
He didnít give them a complete picture of where they would end up by
following His call. Secondly, their
response was immediate. They
didnít question, discuss, or debate with God; they simply followed the call.
Thirdly, following the call demanded a complete restructuring of the
patterns in their lives. As they
reorganized their lives to follow Godís leading, He was able to bless them and
do wonderful, God-sized things through them.
what it would have been like for Abram to pack all of his belongings, his
family, his servants and his herds to move out to an unknown place.
He couldnít go visit his new home ahead of time and measure the living
room or the dining roomÖhe didnít even know what city he was moving to; all
God said was ďgo to the land I will show you.Ē
Abram didnít know how long he would be traveling, or even how he would
know once he arrived. But God
called, and so he followed.
God simply asks us to follow Him one step at a time.
Instead of providing us a roadmap that shows a final destination, God
gives us only that which we need to know in order to serve Him today.
We would like to know where we are going to end up, but God wants us to
have enough faith to follow Him one step at a time.
Having faith means that we donít need to know the end of the story, but
that we only need to know what God is asking us to do right now.
is more than ďbelieving in God.Ē
Faith is ďbelieving God.Ē Faith
is ďbelieving GodĒ in such a manner that we restructure our lives because of
that belief. More than a head knowledge of Godís existence and activity,
faith becomes the organizing principle in our lives, because we know that He is
active in our lives, guiding our footsteps.
When we truly live our lives by faith, we are relying entirely on Godís
promises and call, without giving a second thought to our own desires or
ambitions. We recognize that we
simply need to respond to Godís voice, trusting Him entirely with our lives.
call on our lives is like that. He
often doesnít explain Himself to us or give us all of His instructions at
once. I think perhaps He knows that
we would be overwhelmed if we knew the end of the journey before we set out.
Instead, He tells us only what we need to know to fulfill His call right
now. He doesnít explain Himself
or give us a complete roadmap. He
doesnít need to, Heís God. Following
Godís call requires a radical faith that trusts Him implicitly, without
Matthew the tax collector, nor Abram the herdsman took time to negotiate with
God. From a plain reading of the
text, we donít see either of these men asking questions, spending days in
deliberation, or discussing matters with their families and close friends.
Instead, Scripture seems to indicate that they simply answered the call
and followed Godís leading in their lives.
God speaks into our lives and calls us to action, our faith should be as simple
and obedient as theirs. In following their examples, we are not to deliberate,
discuss, or debate, but simply to follow without delay.
We are reminded of a pet eager to come to its master; in the same way, we
should be eager to drop anything that might get in our way, in order to follow
after the Master. This too,
requires that we live our lives by faith, recognizing that there is no better
place for us to be than in the center of Godís will.
call on Abramís life forced him to reorganize the patterns and structures in
his life. His routines were no
longer dictated by status, family position, raising flocks or any of the other
matter to which he gave attention. Instead,
his life was restructured to make Godís will central.
With many unanswered questions, Abram does exactly what God told him to
do, and went on his way, to the place the God would show him.
Godís call forces the organization of our life to change, disrupting the
normal patterns and routines of our lives.
Instead of organizing our lives around our wants, needs and desires, we
restructure and reorganize our lives to His pleasure alone, in humble
recognition that He has whatís best in store for us.
are many principles by which people organize their lives.
Some live their lives to attain as much wealth as possible.
Others are interested primarily in having a well-known name.
Others organize their lives after the pursuit of luxuries or
entertainments. Others desire
political power. Still others chase after the pursuit of world peace or social
justice. Others live their lives
for the pursuit of knowledge and education.
These objects of our attention are not necessarily inherently evil, but
when they become the primary organizing principle of our lives, we have removed
God from the rightful place in our lives.
of organizing our lives by these principles, we are to live our lives ďTo
Godís greater glory!Ē The organizing principle in our life is to be faith in Jesus
Christ, Godís son. When we
reorganize our lives in such a way, we are more able to hear His voice in our
lives, directing us to take that next step of faith.
Perhaps we miss hearing His voice in our lives because we have not
structured our lives in such a way as to allow Him to make His call clear.
Perhaps we fail to do the wonderful, miraculous God-sized thing He
intends for us because we fail to be faithful in obediently taking that first
step of faith.
Has your life been reorganized? Has the call of God been so clear to you that you have restructured the very patterns and routines of your life in order to live your life to His greater glory? Is there a real sense in your life that Christ is leading you every step of the way? Allowing your faith in God to become the organizing principle of your entire life will allow you hear His voice more clearly, and to respond to His call more fully.
does not leave us alone to follow His call.
Throughout history, when God calls a person or group of people to go
somewhere or do something, He goes with them and directs their paths every step
of the way. Noah was led by God in
the building of the ark. He was
then cared for by Godís hand as the boat floated upon the floodwaters.
Abram was called and led by God to the promised land.
The Israelites were led out of Egypt by a pillar of fire and cloud.
The disciples were led by the very Son of God as He established His
kingdom on this earth. Missionaries
have been led through difficult and trying circumstances.
Church planters have been given the vision and guidance to do Godís
work in new areas. And, you and I
have been led by the very hand of God to this point in our lives.
encouraged today to know that God has not simply left us to figure out the
answers on our own. He doesnít
expect us to determine the best course of action for our lives on our own.
Instead, He leads us. Jesus
walks with us, guiding our very footsteps in paths of righteousness.
Because of that, we can have the courage and boldness to live each day by
faith alone, following Godís call on our lives. Let us reorganize our lives in such a way that we allow our
faith in Godís Son, Jesus the Christ, to become the guiding principle of our
lives. Let us seek only His glory
and honor, being willing to quickly and simply follow His call on our lives.
Benediction: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Amen.
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