If you had an advertising slogan for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, what would you choose?
I have a confession. I really don’t care, one way or the other, if the Clydesdales are going to be in a Superbowl commercial. But this week, I learned that they are, courtesy of a front page article. With the run up to Superbowl Sunday and the traditional airing of the great ad campaigns for the year, it did get me to thinking: If Jesus would have had a Superbowl ad, what would his slogan/tag line have been? Whatever it was, it was wildly effective. Just a word and those fishermen are hooked. How did he get those stolid fishermen to leave behind everything – even their father IN THE BOAT – to follow him? He must have had a heck of an ad slogan. What would you choose as his slogan?
Though what I came up with might be a better slogan for a retirement community than the life of a disciple, somehow it stayed with me.
Life like it ought to be.
Just a simple: Life like it ought to be, and the disciples snagged, hook, line and sinker. “I don’t promise you great wealth. Nor fame and prestige. Nor positions of power and influence.” In fact, Matthew begins the public ministry of Jesus on a somewhat ominous note: “After John has been arrested…” Jesus knows that John’s message is part of ‘life as the FATHER thinks it ought to be.’ So he takes up the mantle. He continues the mission that John was no longer able to perform – inviting people back to their roots, back to what makes sense of it all.
Out of that context that Jesus walks along the shore of Galilee. And he sees something in these two sets of brothers. Of all the fishermen dotting the shore that morning, he recognizes something in these four men – good, down to earth, no frills about them men – and thinks – “AH – here is where I start. These are ones who will get ‘life like it ought to be, nay, life like the FATHER thinks it ought to be’.” He saw that these four would be open to his message, would be able to proclaim the Gospel, and, like him, they too could be a light to those in darkness. And he calls them. Will you follow me and learn how to live life like it ought to be?
So, what does “life like it ought to be” – look like in your world? We kind of intuitively know it, don’t we? Gathering around to help those in need or those who are grieving, as we saw in the funerals of Mr. Wiedmann and Kiely and Favazza – comes almost as second nature to us here at St. Ann’s. Living as grateful people, aware of how blessed and gifted we are and taking some moments at the end or beginning of each day to count and thank God for those blessings. Living a simple enough life style so we have things to share with others struggling to simply live. Praying: spending time daily connected to the source of it all in quiet and reflection, so we can hear the voice of God in the midst of all the other noises out there.
And so it goes. Life like it ought to be – connected to God and his people. We know the pattern – as we see it in every church in the land. The cross’s vertical and horizontal arms gives shape to the pattern of how we are to live: Connected to God vertically. Connect to each other horizontally.
Like Peter, Andrew, James, and John, Jesus stands on the shore of our lives. And he recognizes something in us, something that he can use to help bring about the kingdom. We too have been called by the Lord to follow him as members of His Church. We too have been called to be a light to those in darkness. We too have been called to be “fishers of men” who bring others to Christ. We, too, are called to live “life, like it ought to be.”
This week, let that slogan run around in your head. Or if you have a better one, let that be the subject of your prayer. What does ‘life like it ought to be’ look like for you? And does it look anything like “Life like the FATHER thinks it ought to be?” And then get busy living…