Rejoice! For God is in Charge! (and a pastor parker parable)

Rejoice!  God is in Charge!

Matt 4:12-25

 In Jesus Name

May the grace and mercy of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that the Kingdom of God is here… and that He’s made you to fish for men!

The Kingdom of God is like…

Another one of Pastor Parker’s Parables this morning.  

“The Kingdom of God is Like Starting Your Very First Job.”

For me, it was as dishwasher at the restaurant at the Salem Inn.  Four to Eleven three nights a week, Four to Twelve Fridays and Saturdays, plus sometimes banquets on Saturdays and Sundays.  Two dollars and eighty-five cents an hour,, plus a dollar or two if the waitresses were busy and I delivered room service for them.

I remember the first day, the cool industrial dishwasher (I thought I would be doing it by hand!) the noise and bustle, the ancient 45 year old chef, the sweetness of the waitresses and the speed at which they could turn into Medusa, if their orders were delayed.

I remember getting yelled at a bit, and working so hard to try and keep up with the flood of dirty plates, silverware, coffee mugs, taking out the trash, and the absolute fear when in front of the manager I accidently dropped a plate….

Fear and joy, frustration and terror, determination to do a good job and keep ahead of the game, and yet… why was I always the last person in the restaurant to get my job done?  Why was I the guy to shut off the lights?

As we are going about our lives, and hear the call of Jesus to follow Him, to be transformed for the Kingdom of God is here… our heart might race like it is the first day on the job.

For while we are excited to be there, we don’t quite comprehend what we are called to do.  The difference is that we can “Rejoice! God IS in Charge!”

I’ll screw up!

If you can remember your first job, and the first day there, do you remember that absolute fear that you would screw up?  That you would do something that would see you fired halfway through your first shift?

Slowly but surely you built up confidence, or if not on that job, the next one. We eventually learn that in every job, every person makes mistakes.  Those who are successful are the ones who don’t let the fear of mistakes paralyze them, but take responsibility, correct them, learn from them and keep going.

We struggle with that though, this idea that we are imperfect, we are anxious that we will somehow screw-up – and we either become paralyzed, or a self-fulfilling prophesy.  The same with sinning.  We think that this sin or that sin is the end of the world, and like a young dishwasher hiding the broken plates in the walk-in until he can take them out in the trash… we think we can hide it, cover it up, or even ignore it.

Most of us I bet have experienced the moment where the errors we made at work are found, where our “accidents” that we thought were buried are revealed, usually before everyone to see.  I wonder sometimes if that is what slows down our commitment to seek and save the lost?  What if we screw up here, what of we overlook something there?

Is that what happens to us, when Jesus says, come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people?  Many similarities to that first day of work!

Do we freeze like we are on the first day of work?  Do we fear making mistakes, or when we make them, do we fear it is all over? We’ve heard God’s call – for most of us, we’ve heard this passage, or the one’s like it in the other gospels more times than we can count.  We know that we are called to be the light to the world, that we aren’t to hide the light we reflect from Christ….

Yet we find ourselves as nervous as a 15 year old..in fear of being chewed out by an old chef.

The Blessings of the Kingdom

I’ll remind you that the parable is that “the Kingdom of God is like starting your first job”, and the title is “Rejoice, the Lord is in Charge!”

Later in my career in food service, I learned that most good managers planned for the learning opportunities that occurred when their people messed up.  They never told them they were expecting them to screw up, but they were, and would be there to help them learn.  Because most of us learn better from mistakes than from carefully laid down errors.

God is no different, at least according to Luther, who writes:

for here in all three articles He has Himself revealed and opened the deepest abyss of his paternal heart and of His pure unutterable love. For He has created us for this very object, that He might redeem and sanctify us; and in addition to giving and imparting to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has given to us even His Son and the Holy Ghost, by whom to bring us to Himself.” (Large Catechism Apostles Creed, Article 3)

When Jesus says, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people,” He is doing it with the same wisdom He uttered the “Repent of your sins for the Kingdom of God is at hand”  He knows what He is doing when He calls, and He has called each one of us to serve alongside Him.

He’s called us, to repent and be baptized, and now to work beside Him in fishing for people, people who need to be caught up in His net, as He calls them to His people.

And yes, He knows that as we go to work for Him, He will have opportunities to teach us, because we will make a mistake or twenty – but never a mistake He will not use for good.  He’s given us Himself, not just as a guarantee of our salvation, but as a guarantee our work with Him will be a blessing.

He’ll craft you into fishers of men…

You see – the calls of Jesus in this passage aren’t two different calls – a call to repentance – that transformation that comes to us in Baptism and a call to mission that only some will hear.  The call to mission – to come walk with Christ is the same call – and it explains it a little clearer – we join Jesus on a fishing trip that lasts our lives – even as it did His.

It’s the same call, the same transformation, the same walking with Christ as He cleanses and heals us, as He works through us to bring that healing to others.

That’s the point of the pastor parker parable – we find ourselves in this Kingdom of God – our first real “work” in life.  For nothing else we’ve done, or we will do matches the work we do at God’s call.  For His work is done in every other part of lives, our vocations as parents and children, our vocations where they pay us, our vocations in our community, and in the world.

Never forget though, what we are made for, what we are made to be, is the recipients of His love, to be the redeemed and Holy people of God, who catches us, and turns us into His children – the fishers of people.

As we do this, as we God’s graced pull them in, cleanse them, make them His children, we are reminded of what He’s done for us, and knowing that, we rejoice, and know His presence..   AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on January 26, 2014, in Sermons, Theology in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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