Living inspired lives

Published 11:46 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

by Andrew Book

Every time I pick up the Bible, there are different pieces of the stories of scripture that jump out to me. I am regularly impressed by the way God is able to make the words of scripture speak in new and fresh ways even when I am reading a passage I have read a hundred times before. However, there are a few places in scripture where I am drawn back again and again to the same parts of the story and inspired afresh to live fully. Several of those places are the times in scripture where the Apostle Andrew shows up. I was not named after Andrew directly, but since I share a name with him he is one of the figures in scripture who jumps out to me every time I read about him.

Andrew is not a major figure in the Gospels (those books of the Bible that tell about Jesus and his disciples, including Andrew), but when he shows up he is almost always bringing something or someone to Jesus. John 1 tells us that Andrew was the one who first brought Peter to Jesus (Peter becomes part of Jesus’ inner circle and was the leader of the early church), so Andrew’s impact on the church is immense, even if it is not Andrew himself who led the early church. I was reading John 6 earlier this week and Andrew showed up again. Here is the story:

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus goes on to take those five loaves and two fish and use them to feed five thousand people!

As I read that story, my attention was drawn to my namesake. I realized the importance of his simple act. Andrew did not know what Jesus would or could do with the simple meal he was bringing to Jesus, but he brought it to Jesus anyway.

I was reminded about what it means to be inspired by the Apostle Andrew: Andrew reminds us that we are called to bring everything to Jesus. We invite people to Jesus, we bring our (sometimes limited) resources to Jesus, and we come to Jesus ourselves. We may look at the need in the world around us and say, “how far will this go among so many,” but in our doubt and questioning we bring it all to Jesus just the same.

Andrew has shaped my ministry as a pastor deeply. A big part of how I see my calling is to simply bring people to Jesus — and bring them back to Jesus in times of life where we struggle to find him. I trust that once people get close to Jesus, he will be their shepherd and guide!

Having people who inspire us to live fully is important if we are going to be able to live out what is important to us. The people I count among my inspirations include John Wesley, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nelson Mandela, Saint Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa and C.S. Lewis. I look to their stories and read their writings to encourage me to live as fully as I can. You may not know all of those people, but what matters most is that you find people who can push you to live out the life God is calling you to live. The list of people who inspire us should be as different from one another as our passions are different, but someone who is a good inspiration will help you step beyond the life you are living now to be a little more fully invested in being the person you want to be.

I hope you will take a little time today to think about who is an inspiration to you. Then go online or go to the library and find out more about them — maybe their life will inspire you to live more fully. If you are looking for a community of people pushing ourselves to live life fully, come join us at Courtland United Methodist Church. If you already have that community, then invite your friends to join you as you seek inspiration and live out an inspired life!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or