There are several factors to consider when assessing the likelihood of making a major change. I review several that I feel are key components in the sermon. In short, the results indicate why major changes tend to be less likely.
Skipping the scene of Jonah and the big fish, this week's lectionary focuses on the prophet carrying out his mission to the pagan people of Nineveh. He does it, but truthfully, it isn't a mission with any likelihood of success. These people don't know much of anything about Jonah's God, and Jonah's message to them would likely have been received as gibberish.
Shockingly, the people of the city actually turn and repent for their ways to Jonah's God. The king even gets on-board with it. God hears their pleas and relents of the divine plan to destroy the city. Jonah is left shaking his head in disbelief.
Note how Jonah who is summoned personally by God never fully embraces his mission and spends most of his time resisting God's call, while the pagan of Nineveh become the (very) odd fellows who turn to God and respond to God's call. What was that all about?
In the gospel of Mark, we have another rather stunning scene of people being called and turning away from their current course and embarking on big changes. In his usual breakneck literary pace, Mark notes the arrest of John the Baptist and locates Jesus in Galilee, far from the action in the Jordan River wilderness.
Walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encounters first brothers Andrew and Peter, and then brothers James and John, calling them to follow him. These odd fellows drop their fishing nets and fall in with Jesus.
As it's written, it's quite remarkable. However, knowing Mark's penchant for "short-hand" writing about events, he may have left out what everyone hearing the story knew already - that these men all knew one another from prior experiences, perhaps from having been together with John the Baptist. Still, they join up with amazing alacrity.
All of this points out how few will answer the call of the Lord to serve as witnesses to new life. The ones who respond are indeed the odd fellows. They're willing to give up plenty in a variety of ways to sacrifice and serve the Kingdom.
Does God have a new word for you? Check out the sermon video below and note the downloads below the video panel.