Readings for the day:
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
So you may have noticed that there is a common theme throughout the scripture readings this morning. In the first reading, God is calling Jonah to deliver the challenging message that they need to repent or God will destroy them. In the second reading, Paul is calling the Corinthians to put their focus on God rather than focusing on trivial matters that aren’t that important. And in the Gospel reading, Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James, and John to be his disciples; to proclaim the good news of God to all people.
And God calls all of us to various tasks, but I don’t think that any of you have spent three days and nights in the belly of a fish because you said “No” to God. I’m also going to guess that you willing don’t say “Yes” to God without even knowing how the answer is going to affect you, your family, your career, or your friends. Which by the way seems to be exactly what these four disciples did – left everything behind to follow Jesus without taking a moment to even think about what they were leaving behind. So we aren’t as bad as Jonah, nor are we as willing as Simon, Andrew, James, or John; we’re somewhere in the middle. What does God want with average, somewhat willing, fairly normal, down-to-earth kinds of individuals? Well, probably more than what we give Him, right?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to say “No” a lot. Granted I have a 2 year old at home, so I do often say “No”. “No, you can’t have popcorn for supper.” “No, you can’t watch another movie today because you’ve already watch 2 other movies.” “No, you can’t have chocolate or cookies for breakfast.” “No, get off the table.” “No, don’t touch that.” And I could go on, but you get the idea. I say “No” a lot to our toddler.
What or who do you say “No” to? Don’t we often say “No” to God? “No God, I really don’t want to help that person out.” “No God, I really don’t want to serve on that committee or board.” “No God, I really don’t want to pray before each meal or read the Bible.” We all say “No” a lot. We say “No” to God and “No” to each other quite often.
But in order to say yes to something, we usually have to say no to something else. There is only 168 hours in a week and we can only use about 112 of those hours because we also need to sleep. And there is only so much that we can cram into those 112 hours each week. At some point in time something has to give. In order to say “Yes” to God, or the church, or our family, or a non-profit organization – we have to say “No” to someone else. Jonah had to say “No” to his own selfish desires and ideals of fairness in order to say “Yes” to God’s redeeming plans for the city of Nineveh. The Corinthians had to say “No” to their petty little matters of this world in order to say “Yes” to the hope of eternal life that if found only in Jesus Christ. And Simon, Andrew, James, and John had to say “No” to their jobs (the boats and nets), to their families and practically life as they knew it in order to say “Yes” to the Savior who was standing in their midst and calling them to a different mission and purpose.
Today God is calling all of us to evaluate our 168 hours in the week. Who or what are you saying “No” to a lot? Is what you are currently doing more important than what you are saying “No” to? God is calling you to follow Him who gives you a different mission and purpose than what the world gives. Jesus calls you to repent of your sins and believe that He indeed is the Savior of the world – the only One who can give you hope that goes above and beyond this life.
On the cross, Jesus said “Yes” to forgiving your sins, but in order to say “Yes” He had to also say “No” to something. And that something was the petty little things that we rank as more important in this world. Will your work, your children, your smartphone, sleeping in, staying out late with friends, Facebook, or any other thing that we think is important save you from your sin? NO! It won’t! Only Jesus can say save you! That is why Jesus chose to say “Yes” to YOU and forgiving YOUR sins and said “No” to the things of this world which will pass away, but Jesus and the promises that you were giving in your baptism will last forever.
Kollyns, Jesus went to the cross, dying and rising from the grave so that you could live with God forever. In a few minutes, Kollyns will be baptized, claimed by God, forgiven of her sins, and be given the promise of eternal life with God. Kollyns, Jesus is saying “Yes” to you!
And actually, even though at times you say “No” to Jesus, Jesus has said “Yes” to you! Jesus calls you, an average, somewhat willing, fairly normal, down-to-earth person to bring the good news of God. This good news is that God is here among us. Jesus has come to save us all from our sin and death. Through your baptism God claimed all of you as his sons and daughters, and on the last day God will raise you to new life with Him. That is what was promised to you at your baptism and that is what will be promised to Kollyns here shortly. Jesus is our hope and salvation for the future. Amen.
© 2015 Anthony Christoffels. Used with permission.