To be transformed you must let go.
How did you end up in your current job?
In the 2014 Forbes reported that 52.3% of folks are not happy with their jobs.
( https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/06/20/most-americans-are-unhappy-at-work/#29c7a984341a )
More than half of the workforce are not content with what they have chosen to do to pay for a living. I want you to see your job as something other than a means to put money in your pocket. As you follow Jesus there is a transformation that occurs in your thinking, and your job becomes so much more significant than just a way of making money. Today I want you to open spiritual eyes and see that your job is strategic in reaching others with the Good News of the Gospel.
As a refresher-the Good News of the Gospel is a person: Jesus of Nazareth, who walked on this earth to offer an alternative lifestyle to humanity, a life that is reconciled to the Creator, a transformation of your mess into his masterpiece, leading you into living an abundant life on a path that will last for eternity. That is good news indeed.
For you 52 percenters you will most likely be able to relate to Simon, Andrew, James and John. Its morning, the sun is up, on the Sea of Galilee. Simon and Andrew were fishermen. Day after day it was the same thing; the same sea, the same net, the same boat. Day after day it was wind, water, fish, sore muscles, tired bodies. They probably grew up watching their dad and granddad fishing, watching their future life, watching how they too would spend their time.
Cast the net, pull it in. Cast the net, pull it in. If you are not casting the net, then you sit in the boat mending the net. That’s what James and John were doing. Casting and mending. Casting and mending. You know about those days, right?
We may not fish for a living but we know about casting and mending nets. Days that all seem the same. One looks like another. Life is routine, lived on autopilot. Nothing changes. We don’t expect much to happen. This is our life. We cast the nets. We mend the nets. Casting and mending to make a living, to feed our family, to pay the bills. Casting and mending to gain security and get to retirement. Casting and mending to hold our family together, to make our marriage work, to grow up our children. Casting and mending to gain the things we want; a house, a car, books, clothes, a vacation. Casting and mending to earn a reputation, gain approval, establish status. Casting and mending our way through another day of dissatisfaction with how we are accomplishing this and worse when loneliness, sadness, or illness also are our companions.
If that’s a little how you are feeling, lets see if Jesus can change that for you. The secret is to let go. To be transformed you must let go.
Mark 1:14-20 (MSG)
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: "Time's up! God's kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message." Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed. A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee's sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.
John the Baptist is imprisoned for his refusal to comprise his message of condemnation of Herod and Herodias-- John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias "adultery" (Matt 14:4-5 (MSG). No compromise is costly. The end of Johns public ministry served as a signal for Jesus to begin his. Most likely Jesus is 30 years of age, the time when Rabbi’s began teaching and taking on students.
The Message is really Jesus himself, the proclamation is that the Kingdom of God is now among us. Today as much as ever, people need to know that this kingdom is real and available. They need to see the joy and the possibilities of that kingdom in you. Because often people are too easily satisfied just to make do with what is quick and easy and cheap. People settle for sex or liquor or a rock band or the distractions provided by entertainment. They look to these things to save them, or at least to help them move forward in a grim world. But, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, we are far too easily satisfied. We’re like a child who turns down an invitation for a day at the beach and chooses instead to stay sitting in a slum alley making mud pies just because the child really can’t imagine how much better a day at the shore can be. When you let go you let Jesus empower you to live your life to the full and you become the marketing plan for the Kingdom.
Have you ever wondered if you settled for the status quo? Ever wonder if there was more to your faith than what you so far have experienced? What would you be willing to let go of to be set free?
If I had only the gospel according to Mark to read I might have thought it odd that these for men would simply walk off their jobs to follow Jesus. But we also have the gospel according to Matthew, Mark and John. Very similar stories but all told through different eyes with different voices. We can make the case that Jesus was not stranger to these men. We can make the case that they have already heard Jesus teaching in the Synagogue, that they have seen Jesus healing and casting out demons. We can make the case that they were already impressed with this young Rabbi from Nazareth. These four had seen Jesus in action. No doubt they had stood in the crowd and listened; no doubt they had stayed to talk long after the rest of the crowd had drifted away. No doubt they already had felt the magic of his presence and the magnetism of his eyes. Jesus did not say to them, "I have a theological system which I would like you to investigate; I have certain theories that I would like you to think over; I have an ethical system I would like to discuss with you." He said, "Follow me!" They did.
Casting and mending nets are realities of life. Not many of us can get by without working to pay for a living. We’re working our jobs, collecting our pay, and like the Paul Simons song we “Believe we’re gliding down the highway, when in fact we’re slip sliding away.” It’s in our normal circumstances Jesus comes to us. Jesus has a way of showing up in the ordinary places of life and interrupting the daily routines of casting and mending nets in order to invite us to follow. That’s what he did to the lives of Simon and Andrew, James and John. That’s what Jesus can do in your life.
The invitation, “follow me,” is also the invitation to let go; to let go our nets, our boats, and even our fathers. We must let go of some of the things that have defined us, that we have identified with, that identify us. That’s the hard part for most of us. We’re pretty good at accumulating and clinging but not so good at letting go. Often our spiritual growth involves some kind of letting go. We never get anywhere new if we’re unwilling to leave where we are.
We accept Jesus’ invitation to follow, not by packing up, but by letting go. Peter and Andrew didn't ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed. When you let go, you let Jesus fill what you’re letting of with what you always really wanted but never knew you did. We let go so that our life may be reoriented, so that we can now travel in new direction, so that we may be open to receive the life of God anew. When we let go, transformation happens – including our nets, boats, and fathers. That’s why Jesus could tell them they would still be fishermen. But now they would fish for people. They wouldn’t become something they weren’t already, but they would be changed. They would become transformed fishermen.
When you follow Jesus your job may not change but your vocation will. Maybe if Peter had been a construction worker, Jesus would have invited him to become builders of human hearts. Maybe if James had been a real estate agent, he would have invited him to become a seller of kingdom turf. Let Go and let Jesus transform your job into a vocation. Calling is another name for vocation. Let go of the old way of thinking about your job, let go and let Jesus help you see that your job is a way to reach people with the Good News of the Gospel. See your job not as a way to make money but rather as a way to fund your vocation.
When you live out your vocation it’s your job that finances real kingdom work, that pays you for living out your calling. A missionary is called to go and tell the good news of the gospel. According to “Be A Fully Funded Missionary” it costs between 40 and 70 thousand dollars just to take care of the missionary. You are already a missionary in place. Your vocation is to make disciples. Your job funds your vocation.
To you 52 percenters out there who are unhappy at your job. Let go. Now I am not talking about quitting your job. You still need to pay for your living. Let go of the unhappiness by allowing Jesus to transform your job into a vocation, into a calling. Peter, Andrew, James and John were still fishermen but instead of fish, now they would catch people. Fishing took on a whole new meaning. Come to an understanding that your job is your means of support for proclaiming the good news and loving people into the kingdom. You will find your unhappiness with your job coming to an end. Your job takes on a whole new significance.
What are the nets that entangle us? What are the little boats that contain our life? Who are the fathers from whom we seek identity, value, or approval? What do we need to let go of and leave behind so that we might follow him? What’s holding you back? What are you holding on to?
Could it be that you just don’t know what is available to you? That’s what CS Lewis thought—You’re happy with mud pies because there’s no knowledge of the bakery around the corner. Make time to contemplate Colossians 1:27 … Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Allow the Holy spirit to show you where the bakery is.
Could it be you’re casting and mending for the wrong pay day? Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure in a field that a person sold everything they had to acquire it (Mt 13:33). The Apostle Paul one who chose to follow Jesus wrote:
Philippians 3:7-9 (NIV)
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Paul let go of what he thought was so important. It was Jim Elliot who said “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
To follow Jesus, you will have to let go. When you do, you will discover that all those things that were so important to you, where just holding you back from living a significant life. Don’t let the culture tie you boat to the dock. Let go, cast off the lines.
Luke 5:4-6 (NIV)
When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
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