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Summary: Why do people not follow?

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"Fishing for People"

Mark 1:14-20

Do we make it seem too easy?

Do we not give enough explanation?

Or perhaps, do people have an inkling of how difficult it is, and therefore make the decision to either "put it off," ignore it, or say "No. I refuse to believe it," when in reality the refusing to believe it is an "easy out" or "an excuse"?

It's popular these days to say something like: "I believe in God and Jesus, but I don't believe in organized religion."

Now, there is good reason not to believe in organized religion, no doubt.

But what kind of organized religion are we talking about?

Are any denominations or churches completely organized...is anything completely organized...even Fortune 500 companies?

When humans are involved messes will occur.

We all know about the hucksters on t-v who are just out to get rich.

We have all been shocked by the scandals which have rocked the church over the past decade or so.

Most of us have been hurt by "church people" at some point in our life.

Most of us have also been hurt by teachers, classmates, spouses, best friends, bullies down the street and maybe even stray dogs.

What I'm trying to get at is this: If we don't want to do something, most of us are very good at coming up with excuses as to why we aren't doing it.

It's easy to cast blame on others.

It's called scapegoating.

Over the past decade or so there has been a rise in folks who call themselves atheists or agnostics.

And there have been quite a number of books written by atheists which have made the best seller lists.

I have read most all of them.

A group called "The Freedom from Religion Foundation" puts up billboards making fun of people of faith.

I don't have a problem with this.

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing.

I have read most of their writings.

I follow what the skeptics are saying.

Quite often, on CNN or any other news outlet, when a story about Christianity is put on their webpage, in the "comments" section followers of Christ are viciously attacked.

Most of the arguments these persons use come from the writings of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and a few others.

They aren't original, but many are angry.

Some come off as very "self-righteous."

And Christians can come off just as "self-righteous" when we comment about the-quote-un-quote--other side.

I don't want to trivialize the reasons some folks don't believe.

There are lots of reasons.

Perhaps their "time" hasn't come yet.

I mean the list could go on and on and on.

What I am trying to get at is this: The decision to follow Jesus Christ is not a light one.

And when we decide not to do something, our natural instinct is to try and find a reason other than, "it's too hard," or "I know it's the right thing to do, but I just can't make that commitment."

I spent ten years trying to force myself not to believe.

And after ten years I finally got to the point where I really thought I didn't believe.

Then, only a few months later; by no choice of my own--my faith came roaring back.

I wasn't happy about this at first...

...but once I decided to embrace it, I realized just how unhappy I had been running and hiding from God all those years.

I entered seminary that Fall.

I wouldn't trade the decision to follow Christ for anything in the world.

But it hasn't been easy, and I don't think it ever will be.

Is it fulfilling?

Yes!!!

Is it life-changing?

Yes!!!

Is it easy?

No.

In our Gospel Lesson for this morning Jesus comes upon some ordinary folk.

They were doing ordinary things.

They were working at their life-long careers.

They were doing what they had always done and always expected to be doing.

We are told that Jesus was announcing "God's good news, saying, 'Now is the time! Here comes God's kingdom!

Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!'"

And then, "As Jesus passed alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea...

...'Come follow me,' he said, 'and I'll show you how to fish for people.'"

We are told that "Right away, they left their nets and followed him."

The same thing happened when Jesus came upon James and John.

They all dropped everything they were doing, their jobs, their lifestyles, their identities--Everything--and became disciples, just like that, "immediately."

But this is by no means the end of the story.

It's just the beginning of the beginning.

What they would learn in the weeks, months and years to ahead is that there is much to learn, and a lot of stumbling, backsliding, and misunderstanding along the way.

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