September 22, 2014
Have you ever wondered why God called you to serve with him and if you are worthy to be a member of his team?
John 15:16 reads: “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.”
For a lot of us, the call of God came sneaking into our lives like a surprise spiritual ice bucket and just about as welcome. I’ve heard many stories over the years. Some people talk about avoiding their calls for ten, fifteen, or thirty years. I put it off for a decade myself. I knew I was called from the time I was fifteen years old. But I’d never met a preacher I really liked, so it took me a long time to realize that pastoral ministry actually was the best way to do what I really wanted—help people learn how to live well. Just as it was for the disciples Jesus spoke with that night in the upper room, it was for me and it may also be for you. We didn’t really choose this.
Jesus chose us. It is natural, of course, to wonder what in the world Jesus must have been thinking. I’m guessing that’s what people wondered about that first bunch of disciples too. We can almost hear their questions as if they were our own. “What, who me, Jesus? I hate getting up in front of people! I couldn’t be a counselor! I’d never get it right! I can’t be anybody’s pastor. I’m too much of a mess myself!” Yet with all of our doubts, sins, and shortcomings, we got picked for the Jesus team. God gave us each a unique calling to serve with him, but how do we go and bear fruit?
Seminary is where great ideas, great thoughts, and great ministries begin growing. You need what happens here. This time will shape everything you do in the kingdom. For me, seminary made all the difference. But hear me carefully—it’s not about what happens here. Getting picked for the Jesus team is about what happens out there. “I chose you that you should go and bear fruit.”
People have hard lives, and they need the Lord. We can bear fruit that lasts. We come to seminary to learn how to interpret scripture for what it really says. We come to learn the rich pageant of Christian history and theology, so we know what the church has thought and done, what we’ve gotten right, and what we’ve gotten wrong since that night when Jesus talked with his disciples about the vine and the branches. We come to learn how the human mind works, how families are put together, and how to help people learn to make good decisions. We come to think through what it really means to live the Christian life for ourselves and how to lead the church of Jesus in the 21st Christian century.
We come here so we can go out there and, with God’s help, make a difference. That’s what happens when you get picked for the Jesus team.