The Great Adventure

The Great Adventure
Matthew 4:18-25
January 7, 2017

In his book, The Island of Lost Maps, author Miles Harvey shared something I think many of us can relate to. He wrote ~

In my 30’s I spent a great deal of time at the Kopi [a travelers’ café in Chicago] whose walls were adorned with masks from Bali and shelves filled with guides to far-flung destinations. I was then the literary critic for Outside Magazine, a great job, but one that was beginning to wear on my patience. You see, the books I read were about people who climbed Himalayan peaks, rode a bicycle across Africa, sailed wooden boats across the Atlantic, or tracked into restricted areas of China. These tales of adventure filled my days and imagination, and yet my own life was anything but adventurous. The interior of the Kopi coffee shop was ringed by clocks, each one showing the time in some distant locale, and as I watched the weeks ticking away in places like Timbuctu and Juno and Goa, I began to long for an adventure of my own.

Harvey said he loved looking at maps. He said he was acting like a character who said, “When I grow up I will go there.” So Harvey would spend hours looking at exciting and exotic places throughout the world – – – and he would lose himself in the fantasy of possible adventures around the world – – hoping to some day find adventure in those places.

Can you identify with him? Are you ever impatient with your life? Do you ever grow weary of the routine, of the way things are? Are you absolutely content with where your life is heading? Is there any part of you that might like to get up from your seat and go off on an adventure that might leave the quality of your life better than it is today? Is there any part of you that wants to do that? For too many people the answer is a resounding, “Yes, yes, I want to go there.”

I want you to listen to this story from the Bible about some people who took that adventure. Let’s look at the story from Matthew 4 ~

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers,

Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

19 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

21 And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother,

in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them.

22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

We’ve all heard the stories and maybe we’ve lived some of the stories of people who just picked up their lives and on a whim, left and did something adventurous when they were young. They felt some kind of calling, even if we disagreed with this calling.

In a sense, that’s what the disciples did: they just got up and followed this strange new rabbi. It’s striking how immediate their response was. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and these hard-nosed working people suddenly dropped their tools, left their loved ones — followed Jesus. When we read stories like this we can’t help but feel there’s something about this kind of response that runs against human nature.

Until you read the words that come next, their behavior is unexplainable. For you see, it’s this very next part that is the context for the first part.

23 And Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom

and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

24 So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains,

those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and Jesus healed them.

25 And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. – Matthew 4:18-25

Look at what Jesus was doing! He healed people! It didn’t matter if it was spiritual, physical, emotional. People were healed. And what did they do?

In other words, lots of people from all walks of life and places laid down their tools, got off their camels, walked away from work, their homes, from wherever – and followed Jesus.

They were willing to get up and follow Jesus because they saw what Jesus could do with a life put into His hands. They saw His transforming power. Jesus said ~
10 I came that you may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10

Jesus came to offer us life . . . not just life when we die, but life in this world today.

Those fishermen saw what Jesus could actually do with a life placed in His hands. They witnessed what Jesus did with people in pain. They saw how He could transform those who were distracted, diseased and demonized. They saw what Jesus did with those who were stuck and were going nowhere under their own power and Jesus transformed life for them.

People were healed and whole. Jesus could take people with whatever condition they had, wherever they were, and fill them with life that transformed them, that changed them, that made them whole. That’s why they followed Him – they wanted it for themselves. They wanted to go into that kind of kingdom.

How about you? Are you interested in a more abundant, healthier, fuller life than you may have settled into? What if Jesus could take you to a land where your past wounds and mistakes no longer haunt or hamper you and you live totally free of that past?

What if He could help you begin again? What if He could guide you to where relationships are safer and sweeter than you dared to dream they could ever be? What if there was a way that you could get so close to the infinite God that you didn’t just know about Him, you knew Him as your closest companion?

Jesus can take you to that place. Imagine, Jesus leading you on a wild, unpredictable, magnificent, transforming journey with Him. Imagine gaining such closeness to Him along the journey that He progressively fills you with His character so that when people meet you they think, they’re meeting Jesus. What if Jesus could do this in you?

Imagine Jesus filling you from the very center of your being, from beyond yourself with a love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, power and courage that resulted in the fact that no addiction or seduction could ever own you again. Imagine you had such power from Him that no enemy could ever faze you again, that no storm or trouble could ever destroy you again?

What would you say? Would you say yes? The truth is Christ has called you!! He’s calling you to that kind of life and to that kind of an adventure. For those of you who’ve been following Him or at least attending church for years, He’s been calling you every day of that time to this kind of transforming life.

But there’s something about this invitation that feels just out of reach to most of us. You know how I know that? It’s because when I asked you the question a moment ago — Would you like to go and do this? I knew what your response would be. It’s how most people respond! Nobody jumped up out of their seat and shouted . . . “count me in!” In some ways, we don’t believe it!

You see, it goes back to what Jesus said in the first part of John 10:10. Remember how He offers us abundant life. But there’s another who seeks to take it away. Jesus said ~
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. – John 10:10

Do you hear that? The thief is satan. He wants to steal your joy, he wants to kill your hopes and heart and dreams. He wants to totally destroy your spirit. He wants you to get to just about to the pinnacle, and then just before the joy of reaching the mountain top, he wants you to believe you can’t make it. That you’re not good enough to get there. And most of us buy into what he’s selling!

Jesus says that’s garbage. Don’t believe the lies, because Jesus is offering you abundant life. Again, Jesus said,
10 I came that you may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
THAT’S GREAT . . . AMAZING NEWS!!
If I said I had 15 free tickets for a sporting event, 15 people would have jumped up! You would have grabbed those tickets. But when Jesus offers us the abundant life, nobody comes running down the aisle wanting what He offers. The game will fade away into a distant memory, but the power of our relationship with Christ will never fade away.

We weren’t created to live a hum drum, boring, mediocre, barely existing kind of life. We were not created to live in fear, to feel defeated, to be guilty, condemned, ashamed, unworthy. We were not created to be that way! We were created in God’s powerful image. We’re His kids, we’ve got His DNA! He reminds us that we are chosen, loved, holy, worth dying for . . . But too often we buy into the lie that we’re just not good enough.

There’s something in us that feels that the life Jesus talks about, this abundant life, is just out of reach for us and we lack the boldness to say an outright yes when He calls us. Our reply is like the child who points at the map and says, “When I grow up I will go there.”

When I have more faith, I’ll go to these places Jesus is talking about. When I don’t have all of these obligations, distractions, and complications I might go. Maybe then I will believe Him.

One of my favorite authors is Erwin McManus. In his book, Divine Appointments, he suggests that many of us church folks unintentionally become sideliners. Instead of participating in the great adventure, we stand on the sidelines and watch. These are people who live more vicariously than valiantly. They find their romance in movies and books. They fight their battles through people like Jason Bourne, James Bond or Katniss Everdeen. Sideliners admire and applaud the great servants, courageous heroes, and spiritual superstars, but they don’t get up out of their chair.

And for most of us? We secretly want to get up and follow God on the great adventure of life, but we’re kind of afraid. We think we won’t make it, or what will we do once we go? Will God really see us through to the end? Or were we just so stupidly mistaken that God never called us or we just screw it up?

We need people who are bold in the name of Jesus. People who are filled with inner joy and passion and purpose. People who want to serve God, people who won’t compromise. People who are filled with vision and courage. Whether it’s at work or in school or at home. We need more of these kinds of people filling our homes, workplaces, politics, schools, and communities.

As Ray Ortlund said ~

You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons. Our hearts are multi-divided. It’s like we have a board room in every heart. Imagine: a big table, leather chairs, coffee, bottled water, and a whiteboard. A committee sits around the table in your heart. There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the recreational self, the religious self, and others. The committee is arguing and debating and voting, constantly agitated and upset. Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We tell ourselves we’re this way because we’re so busy with so many responsibilities. But the truth is that we’re just divided, unfocused, hesitant, and unfree.

Ortlund says there are two ways this sort of person can accept Jesus in the way that leads to maturity. One way is to invite Him onto the committee. I wonder how many of us have done that even this year as a resolution? We’ve said, “This year I will listen more to God, I will give God a vote.” We let Christ become one more complication in an already crowded and confusing life.

Yet, there is another way to accept Jesus. It is to say to Him, “My life isn’t working. Please come in and fire my committee. Let every one of them go. You become my committee. A committee of ONE and I hand myself over to you, Jesus. I put myself in your hands.”

Jesus wants us to enter into His kingdom. Are we willing to let go of all we have and enter the kingdom of God. Will we go on THE great adventure? Do we have the courage to do this? It doesn’t mean we have to leave our homes and jobs; our schools and sports. We don’t have to give up our hobbies and activities. When Jesus calls us to come to Him, to follow Him . . . we do.

I’m not about New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t make them. Maybe instead of resolutions, you make a decision. You make a choice. You make a commitment. You take deliberate steps to putting Christ first. To following Him.

You make the concerted effort to get out of your chair. To get off the sidelines. You make the choice to go with Jesus, to follow Him, wherever that might be.

Your attitude, your spirit, your heart, your deep longings . . . these all make a huge difference in this adventure. Don’t just be a spectator on this adventure.

The spectator pays for admission, then waits to be entertained. While the tourist, the traveler, is proactive in planning, spending money, immersing themselves into the adventure. Soaking up every bit of it. Be part of God’s great adventure.

Do you remember the movie The Incredibles? Do you remember the dad, he’s a middle-aged suburban dad. His life has grown terribly routine.

Let’s watch a scene ~

“What are you waiting for?” And the kid looks back at him and says, “Something amazing.” And Bob softens and says wistfully, “Me too, kid, me too.”

Friends the amazing has come to meet you in Jesus Christ to draw you out of where you are living. When He says to you, “Come follow me,” it’s the most amazing invitation you’ll ever get. Say yes to it. Take steps, even small steps in His direction and you’ll have a life that is much more incredible, more meaningful and filled with purpose.

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