What is the Alternative?

Can the world get any worse than it is today?  Can our country get any worse than it is today?  I mean isn’t it difficult to avoid the obvious as we wake up each morning?  Martin Luther King, Jr had the dream of radical equality among races and gender?  Are we there yet?  NO!  Confidence of our government is at an all-time low – The stock market continues to soar, but wages remain stagnant.  The opioid crisis deepens.  We discover more and more accounts of sexual assault and abuse.  False alarms of a nuclear attack remind of the reality of that possibility.  And, church attendance everywhere continues to ebb.  No doubt, as we sit here this morning, we really may wonder –Is the Kingdom of God near?

But, today – not only does Jesus say that the Kingdom of God is near – but the time has been fulfilled!  Not only is the Kingdom of God come near – But NOW – right now – IT IS FULFILLED – meaning that GOD IS GETTING INVOLVED.

This “Fullness” that Jesus is talking about is from a Greek verb that means –Totality, completeness – Something rendered perfect – and filled to overflowing!

Jesus has been baptized, full of the Holy Spirit and now beginning his ministry – Jesus is calling his disciples – These disciples will no longer just be fishermen – but men who will fish for people.  These men whom Jesus chooses, leave everything to follow him – their jobs, their families, their livelihood, and their normal way of life.

They don’t wait until tomorrow.  They don’t run home to say good-bye to their familes.  They don’t even go and pack a suitcase of clothes.  They have no money.  Nor, do they even ask Jesus, “Where are we going?  What will we do?  How will we live day-to-day?  Where will we sleep?”  Jesus taps them on the shoulder and says, “Follow me.”  And, “IMMEDIATELY” – that very second, they leave what they are doing to follow Jesus.

How many of us would do that?  I’m guessing none of us –

And, as I have pondered this question myself, I have asked myself – “Why?”  Why would I NOT just leave everything to follow Jesus?  What is it about us humans that make it so difficult to get up and follow Jesus as we are called?  Of course, immediately, I think about – Trust and control.  We want control of our lives – and YES, it is really hard to trust –  And, in this case, the disciples had to completely trust in Jesus– 100% trust in Jesus just to take care of their everyday needs – They quit their jobs – so there wasn’t even going to be money to buy food!

Jesus says:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

How does that affect you today?  What might that mean for us today as disciples?  To hear these words as the disciples did in that day – is this enough to hear for you to leave your everyday life and follow Jesus?

Our oldest son was about 6 years-old – in the first grade.  Bob and I were still trying to figure things out in our parenting skills – and now already four children in.

We had just watched a 20/20 TV show about how to discipline children.  One thing we knew for sure was that we never wanted our anger to hurt our children through discipline.  And, so after watching this, Bob and I discussed alternate forms of discipline – such as time-out.  The very next day, our sweet little boy was out playing.  It was a school night, so I called him in to get ready for bed.

He was always a good kid.  We never had any problems with him when being told what to do.  He had always obeyed.  But, this particular evening – I can still it today – our little boy was swinging round and round the lamppost.

It’s time to come in and get ready for bed, I said.

“Nope.”  I don’t want to come in.  I’m staying out here, he says.

Again, I said, “It’s time to come in – right now!”

Nope, I’m not coming in…

Now at this point, I’m starting to fill my blood pressure go up – and this time, I’m not going to be so nice about it.

“Come in the house – right now!”

And, he says – Well, I know you aren’t going to spank me, so I’m staying out!

Little did we know that while we thought he was in bed asleep that night we had our discussion, he was around the corner listening to our conversation.

This instance of child-rearing comes to mind for me as I think about this today’s text because what happened next…

I had to intervene in my child’s life to come in the house – get ready for bed –  Why?  So, that he could get up in the morning and be productive in school the next day.

And, why was that important?  Because I love him.  And, I wanted to do what was going to be the best thing for him.  Jesus has come to this world for us!  To guide us, to help us, to be with us, to love us –

To tell us “The time is NOW to COME AND FOLLOW ME!”

What is the alternative?

Well, I told Robert that evening – OK…then you can stay out here.  But, I’m closing the door now.  And, in just a bit, it’s going to get dark, and it’s going to get cold.  And, you’re going to be all alone.  But, once I shut this door, I’m going to lock the door and get ready for bed myself and you will just have to stay out here until the morning.  So, good-night.

Well, after about 3 seconds of thought, he let go of the lamp post and came in the house.

Is it not difficult to avoid the obvious as we wake up each morning?

Martin Luther King, Jr had the dream of radical equality among races and gender?  Are we there yet?  NO!  Confidence of our government is at an all-time low – The stock market continues to soar, but wages remain stagnant.  The opioid crisis deepens.  We discover more and more accounts of sexual assault and abuse.  False alarms of a nuclear attack remind of the reality of that possibility.  And, church attendance everywhere continues to ebb.  No doubt, as we sit here this morning, we really may wonder –

Is the Kingdom of God near?  The answer is YES!  THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR!

In fact, the time has been fulfilled!  And, Jesus calls us into a life that is full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness…He calls us into a life where though the world is hard and cold and feels as though everything is falling apart, – we are warm and fed with God’s love and amazing grace.

I find Jesus’ calling inviting…

After all, what is the alternative?  This world of chaos, hate, insecurities?  Or, a new life of Christ where there is love, hope, and God’s amazing grace?

I don’t know about you…but it only takes me about 3 seconds of thought to make my decision.

Why would we not drop everything to follow HIM?

Amen.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

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