Gone Fishing

Last week I said Christianity wasn’t for everyone that only the perfect didn’t need to worry about sin and death. That Jesus only came for the sinners, for the broken and the lost. I see that most of you returned this week so I can safely say that none of us are Saints, but sinners, and truly that’s good. Because the Lord came for us and died for us. And while I said Christianity is tough it’s also a blessing to those of us who accept it. True it’s hard and there’s rules and things like love your neighbor and that one can be tough, believe me. And I mean love God with all your heart and mind and soul, how tough is that? I mean this Christian stuff has got to be the toughest job on the planet. So, I’ve decided that from now on we’re going fishing. Now I know that some of your going awesome we’re going fishing. Cool water, cold beer, and a fish fry that sounds good right. Maybe your thinking too good to be true your thinking there’s a catch to this there’s gotta be right. Because there’s always a catch, and you would be right there is. Jesus told us so many times, there’s always a catch. Do you want to be first? Well then you have to be last. Do you want to gain the world? Ok, but you’ll lose your soul. Do you want to live forever well first you have to die? Let me ask you a question and then we’ll go fishing. I want you to think about something you really enjoy. Something you would rather be doing right now. If it’s fishing great or hunting, gardening, painting, reading, whatever it is you fill in the blank. It has to be something that you pursue relentlessly, passionately, that you absolutely love to do. OK, now you’ve got that picture in your mind…right. It’s there, you can see it, you can feel it, you can taste it. Now tell me; what is the mission of the United Methodist Church? Not exactly what you were expecting. “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” But pastor, we don’t know how to make disciples.

I know, I’ve heard it a thousand times and said myself a thousand times. But, listen this if you would. The Process for Carrying Out Our Mission—We make disciples as we:

—proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ;

—lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;

—nurture persons in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing;

—send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, being and becoming a compassionate, caring presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel; and

—continue the mission of seeking, welcoming and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ. That is straight from the Book of Discipline Section 122. You know I used to think that the Methodist mission was crazy, because everyone I ever asked. Did not know how to make a disciple. Oh! They were clever in their answers. Like, what exactly is a disciple? Or, define what a disciple is and then I’ll give you a process for making one. I should have known better, how to do what Jesus told us to do is in the bible. How to make disciples is in the bible, in Luke as a matter of fact, Luke chapter 10 verses 1-16, don’t worry we’ll get there because this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. We have known all along how to make disciples and John Wesley certainly knew how to make disciples, the Methodist church knows how to make disciples, why is it that the people who call themselves disciples of Christ don’t know how to make disciples for Christ? Discipleship…what is it? Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. Do you remember when Jesus came to Peter and told him do you love me Peter, do you? And Peter said of course Lord. I love you, why would you ask such a thing of me? And Jesus said to him feed my sheep. Feed my sheep. And what do you think Jesus is doing sitting in a boat on a lake with a couple of fishermen who don’t know Him. He is Feeding His sheep He is teaching them.

What is it that we’re supposed to do as disciples? Teach by example, lead as examples. Feed the sheep. The book of discipline says proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” You know of all the disciples many people always wondered why Jesus picked Peter to build his church on. I think it was because Peter was a stubborn pain in the butt. I mean he is obviously being condescending here. Sure, you’re a great Rabbi with all these people following you. It’s not like I’m a master fisherman, who hasn’t caught anything, it’s not like I’ve been up all-night fishing and want to go home and get some sleep. But, because you said so, I guess we’ll do this. Just this once. Now if Jesus can use a pain in the butt like Peter as a disciple there’s no reason why He can’t use your neighbor or you, or anyone else you encounter in this world. The Lord built his church on that stubborn pain in the butt. I’m pretty sure he can do even more miraculous things with whatever it is you have to work with. When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So, they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. The miraculous, sometimes we forget just how big God really is. It’s like we can’t believe that he can do these things. But let me ask you this. If they don’t believe this and I have to assume that many Christians don’t believe this, why do they pretend? Because if they did, if they truly believed in their hearts that Christ was the Lord and savior of the universe. That we will live forever through grace and faith in Jesus. Wouldn’t you tell everybody? I mean how can you keep it to yourself? How much of a spiteful hypocrite can you be to keep this good news all for yourself? How utterly selfish and hateful Christians must be. No wonder people don’t like us. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  Go away from me Lord, For I am a sinful man. Did Jesus leave him?  No, He did not. Jesus never abandons us. Look at it this way. Do you know why you were made a disciple? Because you were made a disciple by Christ. You were chosen by Christ. You may have thought you were making the decision, but you did not. Jesus made that decision. Jesus brought you to Him. Jesus sought you out, not the other way around.

So, why do you think you were made a disciple at that particular time and under those circumstances. You know I think it’s because the Lord seeks us at the lowest points in our lives. Peter said it, Lord I have fished all night and caught nothing. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were on the verge. They were getting ready to call it quits because they had nothing and it’s so much easier to give up and go home, call it a day, forget about all the hard work you put into it and just give up. But the Lord came into their lives. Jesus came into their lives he commandeered their boat. He commandeered their livelihood, their very lives …for just a moment and that moment became a lifetime. Because just when they were at the bottom at the very bottom. God came into their lives and said no, I am going to turn this around for you. Give me a moment of your time and I will change your life forever. I will make you a disciple and you will go forth and you will make disciples for me and you will transform the world as I have transformed your world. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.  That is what we are called to do. Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Protestant…Christian. We are called to Make disciples. Jesus tells us to not be afraid He says I’m gonna send you into the world to fish for people. And it’s time that we left everything else behind except for our poles because if we are truly going to follow him. Then were gonna go fishing. Amen! Now normally I would say a prayer and we would sing the final hymn and sending forth and go to lunch. And we will. But first I ask that you take the insert that is in your bulletin and recite with me the covenant of the worldwide united Methodist church.

A Companion Litany to Our Covenant for the Worldwide United Methodist Church

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we affirm our unity in Christ.

People: We will take faithful steps to live as a worldwide church in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to be in ministry with all people.

People: In faithfulness to the gospel, we will cross boundaries of language, culture, social or economic status as we grow in mutual love and trust.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we participate in God’s mission as partners in ministry.

People: We share our God-given gifts, experiences, and resources recognizing that they are of equal value, whether spiritual, financial, or missional.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we commit ourselves to full equality.

People: We uphold equity and accountability in our relationships, structures, and responsibilities for the denomination.

Leader: In covenant with God and each other, we enter afresh into a relationship of mutuality.

People: With God’s grace, we joyfully live out our worldwide connection in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

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