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“A Fork in the Road” January 26, 2014

Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthe 4:12-2! 1 "orinthians 1:10-1#

How many of you have ever made an important, life-changing, decision? Probably all of us. The choice to get married, or not, to go to college, or not, to buy a car, or a home, or not, to change jobs or careers, or not, are all choices that have the potential to change our lives regardless of what we choose. Even the choice to join ub !couts or "oy !couts or #irl !couts or whether or not to try out for band or a sports team at school, will change us for the rest of our lives. $hile % am not a huge fan of poetry, &merican poet 'obert (rost was able to describe this sort of life changing choice in a way that many of us can never forget. $he Road %ot $aken & Ro'ert Frost T$) roads diverged in a yellow wood, &nd sorry % could not travel both &nd be one traveler, long % stood &nd loo*ed down one as far as % could To where it bent in the undergrowth+ Then too* the other, as just as fair, &nd having perhaps the better claim, "ecause it was grassy and wanted wear+ Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, &nd both that morning e,ually lay %n leaves no step had trodden blac*. )h, % *ept the first for another *nowing how way leads on to way, % doubted if % should ever come bac*. % shall be telling this with a sigh !omewhere ages and ages hence/ Two roads diverged in a wood, and %0 % too* the one less traveled by, &nd that has made all the difference.

1Two roads diverged2 and that has made all the difference.3 'obert (rost said it better than most of us ever could. %n the course of our lives, each of us has come to a place where there is a for* in the road. $e have come to a place where we must choose one path over another, one school over another, and one career over another, and in each case the path that we chose, made all the 4

difference in the course of our lives. &lthough 'obert (rost left the church as an adult, perhaps the stories he had heard resonated with him as he told of the paths that diverged. 5ust as our choices change our lives today, they changed the people that we meet in scripture. %n Isaiah 9:1-2, #od describes how the lives of his people will change with the coming of the promised messiah. 'ather than describe the choices that will be made as two paths that diverge, #od instead describes the difference as one of light and dar*ness2 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— !he people wal"ing in dar"ness have seen a great light# on those living in the land of deep dar"ness a light has dawned. "ut as that light dawned with the beginning of 5esus6 ministry on earth, it compelled people to ma*e choices and to choose which path they would follow. (Matthe 4:12-2!)

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. $% &eaving Na'areth, he went and lived in (apernaum, whi)h was by the la"e in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— $* to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah+

-&and of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— $. the people living in dar"ness have seen a great light# on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned./

1rom that time on Jesus began to prea)h, -2epent, for the "ingdom of heaven has )ome near./


4s Jesus was wal"ing beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon )alled 5eter and his brother 4ndrew. !hey were )asting a net into the la"e, for they were fishermen. $6 -(ome, follow me,/ Jesus said, -and I will send you out to fish for people./ 7 4t on)e they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. !hey were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus )alled them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, tea)hing in their synagogues, pro)laiming the good news of the "ingdom, and healing every disease and si)"ness among the people. (or the people who encountered 5esus, it was as if they had found a light in the dar*ness. They had a choice to ma*e. They could continue to live in the dar*ness or they could repent and change their path and come
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alongside the light. The disciples also had to ma*e a choice. 5esus invited them, not only to come near the light, but also to learn to share it with others, to become fisherman who went out to catch people. The disciples had to choose a path. They came to a for* in the road. They left everything behind, jobs, careers, income, family, and friends. They left it all behind so that they could learn from the wandering 'abbi that taught forgiveness and love instead of hatred, compassion instead of ruthlessness, and who taught a way of following #od that was completely different than the way that many of their church leaders were teaching. The disciples came to a for* in the road. They could follow 5esus or *eep on doing things the way that they had always been done. "ut following 5esus was a radical thing to do. The road that they would follow diverged from the path that they had grown up following. (ollowing 5esus re,uired, even demanded, that they change the way that they thought about the world and the way that they understood their place in the world. "ut the disciples6 choice to follow 5esus made all the difference. )nce they committed to follow 5esus, their lives were never the same again. &ll of them were hunted+ most were arrested and beaten because they chose to follow 5esus. 8early all of them died because of the choice that they made. "ut to us, and to generations of followers, their choice has made all the difference. "ut even after 5esus left the earth and returned to heaven, his followers continued to ma*e choices that changed them. Eventually, they began to ma*e choices that too* them in different directions and while some of these were necessary, meaningful and too* the message of rescue to all people and to the four corners of the earth, other choices set them at odds with one another. %n one of these cases, Paul writes to the church in orinth and as*s them to reconsider some of the paths that they had chosen to follow. (1 "orinthians 1:10-1#)

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our &ord Jesus (hrist, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfe)tly united in mind and thought. $$ 8y brothers and sisters, some from (hloe9s household have informed me that there are :uarrels among you. $ What I mean is this+ ;ne of you says, -I follow 5aul/# another, -I follow 4pollos/# another, -I follow (ephas/# still another, -I follow (hrist./

Is (hrist divided< Was 5aul )ru)ified for you< Were you bapti'ed in the name of 5aul< $* I than" God that I did not bapti'e any of you e=)ept (rispus and Gaius, $, so no one )an say that you were bapti'ed in my name. $. >?es, I also bapti'ed the household of Stephanas# beyond that, I don9t remember if I bapti'ed anyone else.@ $0 1or (hrist did not send me to bapti'e, but to prea)h the gospel—not with wisdom and elo:uen)e, lest the )ross of (hrist be emptied of its power.

1or the message of the )ross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. This is a convicting passage for almost everyone who attends church. Paul says that there should be no divisions among us. $e should not say % follow Paul, or % follow Peter, but only that we should all follow 5esus. How often are we guilty of e9actly this sort of thing when we say, 1% follow 5ohn $esley,3 or 1% follow :artin ;uther?3 Even worse, within the local church we often find more ways to divide ourselves. hurches are divided by their vision for the church, by what they see as the mission of the church, and over the leadership of the church. Paul6s plea and prayer is that we would find the wisdom to draw close to the !pirit of #od, to follow hrist so closely, that the paths we choose to follow would draw us closer together and not farther apart. $hen we follow the paths that 5esus would follow, then we begin to grow in unity and peace.


Paul tells us that our choices can draw us together or pull us apart. Every day we ma*e life-changing decisions and each one has the potential to draw us closer to hrist and closer together, but each also has the potential to push us away from hrist and away from one another. hrist is not divided. 8either should his church be divided. Each of us has the potential to ma*e choices that will change our lives, that will change our church, and indeed, change the world. 'obert (rost told us that it is our choices that ma*e all the difference. $hat choices will you ma*e? $hat di**eren+e will you ma*e?


.ou have been reading a message presented at Trinity >nited :ethodist hurch on the date noted at the top of the first page. 'ev. 5ohn Partridge is the pastor at Trinity of Perry heights in :assillon, )hio. ?uplication of this message is a part of our :edia ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you. ;etters and donations in support of the :edia ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Trinity >nited :ethodist hurch, <@A@ ;incoln $ay E., :assillon, )hio ==B=B. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership. .ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at %f you have ,uestions, you can as* them in our discussion forum on (aceboo* Dsearch for Pastor 5ohn )nlineE. These messages can also be found online at http/FFwww.scribd.comFPastor 5ohn Partridge. &ll !cripture references are from the 8ew %nternational Gersion unless otherwise noted.