Immediately

This weekend I was blessed to be invited to a nearby church to do a talk about on my book Psalms by the Sea. The organizer had done a terrific job planning the entire thing and had ordered my books from Amazon for the women who wanted to purchase them. Thinking that they would have the books in front of them, I prepared my presentation in a way that I could use volunteer readers and have some of the psalms read out loud together. When I got there, she told me that the books had not come yet, so I quickly shifted to a more “author book reading style,” which turned out just fine.

We joked about why the books failed to arrive on time. Our little island’s single curvy road is under construction. Perhaps the books are stuck at the first portable stop light waiting for the little flag to go up and the light to turn from red to yellow. Or perhaps Amazon sent them by boat and our recent high winds and strong waves were too much for the poor guy rowing them across the sound. Or maybe they had been delivered and were sitting outside the organizer’s house in an odd place. This has happened to all of us, as our beachy houses on stilts don’t have a discernible front door and we often find packages left days earlier in weird places.

So, when I read the assigned scripture today about Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to follow him, the word “immediately” jumped out at me:

Matthew 4 (Common English Bible)

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishers. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

Wouldn’t it be lovely if things happened immediately?

“Georgia, stop barking.” And Georgia stopped immediately

“Kids, go get ready for school.” And the kids got ready immediately.

“Honey, it’s time to leave for the movie.” And honey got up from the couch, turned off the football game, and immediately got into the car.

“Immediately” would be such a blessing at the DMV, when you’re on the phone holding for a “representative,” or in the overcrowded Urgent Care waiting room. Peter and Andrew had been preveniently moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to Jesus’ invitation to drop everything and become a disciple.

21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus surely had the power to move people immediately in a way that we don’t. I also think this scripture points out that we don’t respond to God’s calling quite as quickly as those early disciples, and perhaps we should learn from their example. It took me two years of discernment to decide to go into the ministry. These things must be thought out carefully but there are also times when God tells us to speak a kind word to someone who is hurting or stop what we are doing to attend to a need right in front of us and we ignore those prompts and continue to do our own thing.

Jesus Ministers to Crowds of People

23 Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

This may be a stretch, but I wonder if the fact that his posse responded immediately to his call propelled Jesus into his teaching and healing ministries. He didn’t have to continue to go around Galilee looking for a team: they were in place, and he could turn his attention to his own calling.

Where is God calling you to do something immediately? It may be as small as a phone call you’ve been putting off, or as big as starting to plan a mission trip.

Whatever it is, do it.

Immediately!

Follow Me by Michelle Robertson

Follow Me

Unpopular opinion: I think requiring adults to attend church membership classes before they are allowed to join is antithetical to the Gospel. Fortunately, I have always worked in churches that supported my position and I have been able to invite and receive people into the life of the church without requiring the typical four-to-six week indoctrination class.

My position is this: Jesus recruited his “membership” with two words: Follow Me. He didn’t require a six-week class, so why should we? Mind you, we have always had an “orientation” meeting, so that new members could be introduced to the aspects of the church. But that is more about me getting to know them than them getting to know the church. We provide new members with literature about the denomination and encourage them to take Bible studies. But in regard to “joining” the church, I believe that if the Holy Spirit has called you to join, the church shouldn’t put a process in the way of the promise.

Today’s lectionary is one of many examples of Jesus inviting someone to simply follow him.

John 1 (Common English Bible)

43 The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.

Watch what happens next. Philip was invited to follow Jesus. He immediately turned around and brought someone else in. See how that works?

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.”

46 Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”

Remember that Jesus was rejected in his own hometown. There was a pervasive attitude that Nazareth, a little podunk place, was an unlikely location for God’s son, the King of Israel, to grow up. Kind of like being from New Jersey. (I can say that…I’m from Jersey.)

Philip said, “Come and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.”

50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these! 51 I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”

You see, when the church encourages people to simply follow Jesus, the people see heaven open up in their lives. They encounter the Son of God for themselves. They invite him to be the king of their hearts, with no membership class required of him before they welcome him in.

Where is Jesus calling you to follow him today? Is he calling you to a new path? Is he asking you to put your feet on a road of righteousness that you are not currently walking? Is he inviting you to follow him into a sincere way of repentance and cleansing, leaving the old things behind so that you can follow him in a new direction?

Jesus invites us to follow him. No pre-registration required.

Just say yes.

Follow Me by Michelle Robertson