PT2: Faith for Lay Guys_Dressing Down
Updated: Jan 1, 2020
When Jesus first called his disciples they were called out of their careers of fishing for fish with the phrase, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). While they never knew exactly what he meant by that, they followed him anyway, which in a sense, is an act of faith. Jesus met them, and he meets us, smack-dab at at the growing edge of our faith. He always meets us where we are at.
So the disciples follow Jesus north and south through the Holy Land, witnessing countless healings, deliverances, salvation’s, and miracles. They follow Jesus for 6 chapters in Mark until one day, quite out of the blue, Jesus says it’s time to make good on his promise. This is they day - THEIR DAY - go go out an become fishers of men. They are given instructions for journey which creates in them an intentional dependance on God through their travels (Mark 6:7-12), and they are off and running, doing the same sorts of things that Jesus was doing in order to bait potential believers and hook them into a deeper current of the Kingdom.
So the disciples first spent a year in a small group, attended seminary, did a year internship in a local church, formed a huddle and ... then… then… then?
Actually, not at all. They were completely “unschooled,” to do the work God had called them to do, indeed they were unschooled (Acts 4:13). They hadn’t read any books on theology or Jewish Apologetics. They had just been with Jesus. And were just going out because he had asked them to do so. Simple faith.
I can hear his unwritten words to them going like something along these lines.
Just go out and do everything you’ve seen me do. Give away all I’ve invested in you. Don’t get all uptight about it. Depend on God. He’ll provide. He loves this stuff. And he especially loves you.
I’m reminded of a story about late John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Church. Not long after he was saved he wound up in a church holding his Bible and sitting on the front row. The service began, songs were sung, a sermon was preached, there were announcements, and a closing hymn.
Afterwards an usher appraoched him and asked, “So how did you like the service.”
Wimber replied, “It was great. But when do we get to do the stuff?”
“‘The stuff?’” “Yeah, you know, the stuff?” He held up his Bible. “Healing the sick, driving out demons, miracles. You know, the stuff.”
The usher stepped back. “Oh, the stuff. We don’t do that here.”
Wimber’s disappointment was evident. “But I signed up for this so I could do the stuff.”
That experience launched him into a movement where the term “being natural about doing the supernatural” took root.
The stuff isn’t what we live for, of course. If that were the case we would fall short of the reason for the stuff to be in the first place. We like the stuff - endorse the stuff, and even live for the stuff - because it points to something far much greater and far much bigger: God invading our space. That’s the real deal. For us to stop short of the greater reality behind the stuff would be like a baby bird only gasping for food from its mother and not realizing the character, personality, loving care, and tenderness behind the one from whom the stuff flows.
All the same it is pretty exciting and one can easily see why ones participation in doing the works of Jesus can overshadow Jesus himself. And here we return to the disciples. They’ve been watching Jesus doing the stuff (as proof of the in-breaking kingdom) all for 6 chapters now, perhaps longing for the day when they too would step into the shoes of the master Fisherman. This story is all about sending them out into the world to fulfill the promise of when they were first called, to become fishers of men, in the first place.
Interestingly, Jesus doesn't tell them to dress up for the event but to dress down for the event. He instructs them to intentionally place themselves in situations where they are forced to faithfully trust in God as they respond to his call.
“Bring hardly anything and watch your heavenly Father provide for you as you go along the way.” (Mark 6:8-11, my take on it)
This did two things. Firstly, it increased faith in the disciples themselves and it provided a sure witness to those whom they would preach. In other words, they had to be about living the message they were preaching or it would be good for nothing. Jesus knew if they were preaching that Father loves them and that he provided for all their needs they would be needing to see that lived out in the the proclaimers themselves, or would will fall on flat ears.
And, as I recall those who witnessed to me back in the day were those who exemplified hearts dependance on the faith they proclaimed that hooked my attention. Here were people so in the groove with not only their faith, but with God’s faithfulness to provide for them in the moment and in the eternal future, that it really blew my mind. They weren’t preaching a word only Gospel - you know, in a perfect world blah… blah …blah. They were preaching a God in Whom they themselves were relying on, as they spoke.
That spoke to me. And it still speaks to others.
That same message of dressing down to lift him up is as true today as ever was. But enough of that. We need to look at one or two definitions of faith before we get into the real invitation.
Lord God, dress me down into your dependance that you might be lifted up in word and my deed. In Jesus’s authority I pray. Amen.