My sermon for the week was based on Mark 1:14-20.
To download a podcast of my sermon, click here.
The purpose of faith is actually to make us profoundly dissatisfied and uncomfortable.
I know this sounds weird and counter-intuitive. Certainly, some people pursue faith so that they will feel good, and they often become very jaded and disappointed when they realize that living a life of faith is not a golden road to feeling awesome all the time. Without question, many people who are not people of faith labour under the misled impression that the faithful live perpetually in a little bubble of feel-good ignorance.
Well, some people do faith wrong. Yes, part of faith is to realize that we are inherently worthy of love and respect, and that must be a pretty good feeling right? For sure, but the necessary corollary of that good feeling is the realization that everybody else is also worthy of love and respect.
That realization forces us to look on the injustices of the world like racism, abuse, exploitation and the like, and to be deeply uncomfortable and dissatisfied with that. Faith calls us to look on ourselves and realize that we could be better and we could be doing better for our world and for others.
I suspect this is what Jesus led his first four disciples to realize in today's Gospel passage. In today's passage, he calls Simon, Andrew, James and John. They are fishermen, going about their business which is not glamorous but solid, and Jesus just calls them.
I should probably explain at this point that most scholars think that Jesus probably spoke with these four at fairly great length. He had been around the Galilee for some time, and they had probably spoken before the day he called them. He didn't just walk up to complete strangers, say "Follow me" and they did.
So here is an enticing question that will never be answered: what did Jesus say to them?
I suspect that Jesus didn't have to do much convincing. I suspect that Jesus simply pointed out to them something that they had probably been feeling for some time: that they could do more, that they could be more. That maybe the whole fisherman thing wasn't the end-all, be-all of life.
In other words, Jesus made them dissatisfied and uncomfortable. Or more accurately, he pointed out the dissatisfaction and discomfort they were already feeling.
It seems that society wants us to be happy all the time. I am all for that, but we have a responsibility to our families, friends, neighours and even completer strangers who are in need or suffering. That requires us to not be happy with the world as we find it, or ourselves as we are.
Today, I invite you to be dissatisfied, because some things in this world are simply unsatisfactory.