When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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Keep our eyes on Jesus

February 17, 2020

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:2, NIV

So, how many of you watch one or more television programs known as reality TV? Go ahead, raise your hand. It’s okay to admit it. Truth be told, many programs today would qualify as reality TV, including some of our news shows. We get hooked on the drama and can’t seem to turn away, even though we know the programs are produced to enhance the drama with the intent of maintaining an audience.

I’ve been thinking about reality television and have a suggestion for a new show. I would like to take a couple of shrimp boat captains from off the coast of Georgia, two or three crab boat crew members from “The Deadliest Catch,” a lawyer, a college professor, an IRS auditor, and both a Republican and Democrat running for re-election, and place all of them in an RV to tour the country. Can you image what kind of drama would happen in that group? How long do you think they would be able to stay together?

I have to admit, I’m borrowing this idea from someone else. From Jesus, actually. He had 12 committed disciples. They included four, maybe five working-class fishermen, one or two of whom were well-educated in a day when reading and writing were educational tasks only the wealthy could experience; several brothers, one who had sold out to the Roman government and was a tax collector; and several Jewish nationalists who expected Jesus to be a militant messiah and reclaim the Jewish state from Roman control. The fishermen would have been looked down on by the educated, the Jewish nationalists would have expected all to take up arms to support their cause, the brothers would have argued just as brothers often do, and no one would have wanted to be anywhere near the tax collector.

Somehow, they managed to stay together for three years. These men with very different backgrounds, very different educational levels, and very different expectations of the outcome of spending time with Jesus stayed together. We know about their public disagreements – who would get to sit on Jesus’ right and left hands in the end. We have no way of knowing the behind-the-scenes discussions and potential disagreements that took place. But we know they stayed together. What held this group together and then propelled most of them into a life of building the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus the Christ? I believe they were able to stay together because they kept their eyes on Jesus. With their focus on the one who was leading them, they were able to watch, listen, and learn as Jesus demonstrated what it meant to live according to God’s purposes and plan. What started as a First-Century version of a reality television show transformed into reality as the disciples themselves were transformed into true followers of Christ.

As our church struggles to find a path into the future in which God would like us to live, may we keep our eyes on Jesus and trust that he, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, will lead us to who, what, and where we need to be as his followers. Amen.

Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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