Today’s passage from the gospel according to Mark described the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Calling Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow Him, they obey immediately and follow Him. In his sermon, our Andrew talked about Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of this passage as an example of the absolute authority of Jesus Christ. Because it is Jesus who calls them, the first four disciples obey and follow without question, without reason. Andrew went on to talk about how our faith follows our obedience. We obey and follow not because we have faith, but have faith because we have obeyed Jesus’ call. He also noted that our call is not personal but corporate: Jesus Christ calls us all, all humankind, to put down our nets and follow Him.
This seemed the perfect passage for the beginning of the Sunday School season. The gathering of children to hear the good news and learn how we, as Christians, are called to live, but also because our children do not take themselves to church: they are brought. Before they are old enough to understand why, we teach them the truth of Jesus Christ. They learn of our collective devotion to God and His devotion to us long before they can begin to understand what such devotion means.
As I was contemplating the message in today’s sermon this morning, I wondered: where does love fit in? If we obey God’s call first and then understand what that means and develop our faith afterward, when do we apprehend the love of God? If we follow because we perceive the power and authority of Jesus Christ, when do we perceive His love and His faithfulness? As I sit writing this post, however, I’m struck by the thought that perhaps God’s might is made manifest, in part, in His love. Is it in His love that God’s authority declares itself? Admittedly, my personal bias and lens is that of a parent and mother, but I see a similarity in my relationship with my children – one founded on love but also authority – and the manner in which Andrew described our collective response to Christ’s call.
People often talk of wishing to have “the faith of a child”. Obedience without understanding. Following without questioning. Believing without reasoning. We are called to emulate this, to cast down our nets, our preconceptions, our goals and priorities and follow Jesus, not for some wise or clever reason, but simply because He is LORD.