“A Team Of Must Haves”

February 8, 2015
Jonathan Rumburg
Mark 1:14-20

          According to Entrepreneur magazine there are “four people every business owner must have” if they want to make their business successful.

           They write, “These four types of supporters who serve as emotional backers and/or advisers are what every business must have.  If you are fortunate enough to find all four, you will have what it takes to raise a business.”

The four types, according to Rich Mintzer author of this article, are as followed:

First, the Cheerleader.

Mintzer says, “Athletes have them, so why shouldn’t you?  Cheerleaders are those who will rally behind an idea and provide encouragement, especially during the initial headaches of a business start-up.

Next, the Role Model.

According to Mintzer, this is the “follow me and do as I do” person.

He says, “Watch this person, take mentoring from him or her, and you begin to see important principles at work.  Mentors with a good work ethic or wise business acumen can be worth their weight in gold to a budding business.”

Third is the Expert.

“It’s always good to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you about certain areas.  Experts provide the missing pieces for entrepreneurs who may be gifted in one part of the business but need help and advice in another.

And last but certainly not least is the Techie.

Mintzer concludes saying, “These are folks who are wizards with: computers, communication systems, manufacturing, infrastructure and the like.  Someone with the ability to provide efficient and timely technical support and advice can be a godsend in today’s business world.”

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           While there may be other types of supporters needed in a start-up venture, the point this article is making is that it takes a team of must haves to be successful.

Entrepreneurs know this is true today, and Jesus knew it to be true when he was beginning to launch a new venture himself.  And if Jesus— Son of the living God— believed this to be true, we’d better believe it, too.

And while Jesus concurs this article’s idea of must haves, we are about to see that Jesus’ idea of must haves are very different than today’s entrepreneur.
In our text, we see that Jesus is beginning an entrepreneurial venture, but he’s not starting a “business,” and he’s not just some guy trying to make a buck.

He’s actually doing something much more ambitious!  He is proclaiming that the kingdom has come, that a new world order is being reined in.  He is proclaiming grace, forgiveness, compassion, victory, and eternal life.

And as much as it might sound that such would sell itself, so to speak, Jesus still knew that he would have to have a strong group of supporters, partners, and co-workers, who were willing to do all that was needed to ensure wide-spread success.

So to get this Good News venture going, Jesus surrounded himself with a team—a team of must haves.  But he doesn’t wait for them to come to him.  Rather, at the outset of his ministry he spends time going after candidates himself.

However, if the call of the first disciples is any indication, Jesus wasn’t looking for cheerleaders who would be part of an entourage, he didn’t need role models of high moral character and religious piety, he wasn’t looking for experts in religious discourse, nor was he looking for techies versed in communication theory and practice—folks you would likely find at the local synagogue.  Rather, he goes to the lakeshore, an unlikely place for sure, and begins by inviting some unlikely people to be on his team— fisherman.

While the text gives us no indication of the specific roles Jesus was looking for in Simon, Andrew, James and John, we can get a clue at least about the basic character of the disciples he was calling and, indeed, still calls today—and it’s in looking closely at who they were, and what they did, that shows us just what makes up Jesus’ team of must haves.

Jesus was doing his own “fishing” for people when he came upon Simon, Andrew, James and John; and invited them to join him in his work.

Now traditionally, readers of the gospels assume that these fishermen were poor, destitute individuals with nothing to lose, who follow Jesus in an effort to break the monotony of their everyday lives.  But a close reading of Mark reveals quite a different scene.  These four fishermen were likely quite successful.

We learn later in chapter one that Simon and Andrew had a house and an extended family, and that James and John, along with their father Zebedee, were wealthy enough to be able to hire additional help for their fishing business.

Chances are good that with this kind of background these men likely had some education.  This shows us that these men weren’t desperate drifters with nothing to lose.  Rather they were well-established businessmen in a culture where prosperity and family were everything.

There at the lakeshore, Jesus was looking not so much for just any old Joe, but he’s looking for a person who will offer a particular response, because following Jesus was no small disruption of one’

s life, but in fact it was a complete change of course in life.

Throwing in with Jesus meant throwing out their security, their reputations and their livelihoods.  Following Jesus meant a change in life style, of giving up control, of doing things differently than the way they had always done it before.

What all of this shows us is a very different picture and perspective of what it means to be a Disciple of Christ.  Jesus wasn’t looking for members to join a social club.  Jesus was looking for Disciples of Christ, who would willingly follow, and do, whatever needed to be done to fulfill the mission of the endeavor.

And what exactly was the mission—after all any entrepreneurial venture worth its salt begins with a solid mission statement, which Jesus no doubt had:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (1:15).

The time is now, God is here, change your ways and believe the good news—the Good News that is: Because of Jesus, everything changes.

Move 3

It bears stating, that the announcement of the kingdom would have sounded both exciting and dangerous to those hearing Jesus’ invitation to join his team.

It was exciting because it meant that God was going to act decisively on Israel’s behalf, but dangerous because that meant a challenge to the prevailing Roman authority.  In fact, for many first-century Jews, “kingdom of God” was a revolutionary slogan that foreshadowed violent revolt against Roman power.  Jesus, however, would use that slogan quite differently.

For Jesus, the coming kingdom was a sign that God was going to do something on behalf of all of creation, redeeming God’s people from sin, making outsiders to be insiders and decisively defeating evil and death.  That was the “good news.”  That was Jesus’ mission.  And he was looking for a special team of must haves to help him spread it.

It seems a bit obtuse though, doesn’t it—who exactly Jesus calls as his team of must haves.

I mean, can you imagine Jesus walking into an office building, a factory, or a grocery store and tapping an administrative assistant, a welder, or a checkout clerk on the shoulder saying, “Follow me.”

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of their coworkers when the employee walks out, leaving files unfiled, metal un-welded, and groceries un-bagged.

We have a hard time fathoming that kind of response, but if we did, we would probably chalk it up to some kind of cult-like mind control on the part of the spiritual guru making the call.

It’s hard to imagine because though we like the idea of religious devotion to a cause, we still limit it insofar as it doesn’t get in the way of our “normal” lives.

But here’s the thing—Jesus didn’t come to set up a normal life for anyone.

Rather he came to set up an extraordinary life that would happen in the kingdom of God.  And because that is what he came to do, there is no other conclusion than this:

If we choose to follow Jesus, in the manner he called the first Disciples, then Jesus will disrupt our normal lives.  Too often we miss that fact that Jesus is all about disrupting our normal lives.

The announcement of the kingdom was a proclamation that everything was changing.  Later, these same disciples would be accused of “turning the world upside down” through their preaching and activity in the name of Jesus (Acts 17:6).

What all of this teaches us then, is that being a disciple of Christ means being willing to drop our own agendas for a new way of life and get on board with the Kingdom of God agenda of Jesus.

We are not called to simply be advisers and supporters of Jesus, but true partners and investors who stake our lives and livelihoods on his vision for the world.  The question becomes though:  Do we have what it takes to be on Jesus’ team of must haves—which is simply, but not so simple—the willingness to have our normal life disrupted?

Conclusion
Jesus wasn’t looking for a cheerleader, a role model, an expert or a technie.

Rather than looking for four specific role definitions, Jesus wanted people with just one primary qualification for discipleship: a willingness to follow, regardless of cost.

Sure, the disciples would take on different roles within the group as it formed around Jesus.  Simon Peter would become the leader, spokesman and conscience of the group, John would be the “beloved” disciple and closest friend of Jesus, Andrew may have been the hospitality coordinator, and so forth.

Regardless of his role, however, each disciple shared a common trait:  They said “Yes” to Jesus’ invitation, gambling their own futures on his vision for a new world.

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           Whatever job we’re working at, Jesus challenges us to see our primary vocation as being kingdom people, spiritual entrepreneurs who are fully invested—mind, body, spirit, wallet, time— in that venture!

That is the true mark of a Disciple of Christ.

That is the true mark of Jesus’ team of must haves.  Amen.

 

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