What is your employment status? January 25, 2015

Jonah 3:1-5   Psalm 62:5-12            1 Peter 2:1-10                        Mark 1:14-20

There need not be any unemployed Christians in the church. Yes, I know that there are approximately 101 million unemployed Americans right now. I arrived at this figure by subtracting the number of employed Americans (147,442,000) from the total noninstitutionalized civilian population (249,027,000). This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent “Employment Situation Summary.”(1) This is further enhanced when the Total Unemployed is reviewed to find that 11.2% of the civilian population is unemployed as described by the “Alternative Measures of labor underutilization.”(2)

I get it. Some people are unemployed because of their choice. That is they are caring for a family member, they cannot find a job for which they are trained, or they are employed part-time. So, some people in the church are caring for family members, they haven’t found their spot in the church, or they are underutilized in the church. I get it. We become emotionally drained when we are caring for a loved one. Yet, we can still pray. We become a Christian and nothing going on in the church has yet to strike us as something we want to be involved in. Yet, we can still make ourselves available to God. We have not done much with the church yet, because we have not been asked.

Well, all of us are being asked to be employed for Jesus Christ. Some of us are doing wonderful ministry right now that the church has not recognized. To you I say, keep up the good work! Keep working for the Lord, even if it is not an “official” ministry of the church. You are serving Christ for no thought of recognition.

We are all called by Jesus Christ. We see this in the call of the fishermen in Mark’s gospel. This is further emphasized as we read in 1 Peter that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.

A. Jesus Christ started it all (Mark 1:14-20)
+++1. It is now time to repent because God’s kingdom is close and we can believe the good news
+++2. Jesus showed us how to get people employed – he calls fishermen
+++3. Simon & Andrew immediately followed Jesus
+++4. James & John also immediately followed Jesus
+++5. They were going to fish for men/people
+++6. It is time for America to repent. God’s kingdom has come near. God’s grace is evident in that he has not destroyed us, yet. So we have time to change our ways and believe the good that God has for us. Yet our faith in Jesus Christ does not stop there. We believe in Jesus Christ and we are saved from destruction. Because the Lord is our rock, our salvation, our fortress, we shall not be shaken (Psalm 62:6). We do pour our hearts before God who is a refuge for us. And other people are going to hear our praise of God for the good he has done for us. Once we have repented and started to follow Jesus Christ, what do we do?

B. We keep proclaiming (1 Peter 2:1-10)
+++1. We begin to grow into salvation (praying & reading our Bibles)
+++2. We are built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood (2:5)
++++++a. Stones are brought together
++++++b. We are placed together
++++++c. Christ is the cement that holds us together
+++3. As we believe & follow Jesus, we will not be put to shame
+++4. We proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
+++5. For the church, this means we are all employed
++++++a. Bring them in (Witness) – are you talking to people about Jesus done in your life?
++++++b. Retain them (Connect) – are you good at meeting people & including them in what is going on?
++++++c. Disciple them (Nurture) – are you able to teach people what faith in Jesus is about?
++++++d. Send them out (Outreach) – are ready to help people in need in our community, our nation, the world?(3)
+++6. What say you? Are you ready to be employed by God? As you can see from the “Help Wanted” ads, there is much work to be done in and through the church as we live our faith in Jesus Christ. For those of us who are doing ministry, keep working for the Lord! If you are not involved in any ministry right now and something has peaked your interest, then let me know. The ushers have my business cards. They will pass them out during the closing hymn. Call me as soon as you are ready to be involved in ministry.

You have heard the good news that God wants us. You have repented from your ways and started to follow Jesus Christ. Now you want to be involved in what God is doing.

We realized that we are in this together. We are being built into a spiritual house. Each of us have work to do in God’s house. Some of us bring people into God’s house. Some of us connect people into the good that God is doing. Some of us nurture people along in the faith. Many of us reach out to help those in need. All of us can do this work because God has called us to this work through Jesus Christ. What is your employment status within the church?

**********

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[2] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t15.htm

[3] Bill Easum & Bill Tenny-Brittian, Effective Staffing for Vital Churches, (Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 2012), p. 33

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