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Come, Follow Me

fishermen holding net during sunset

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-19 NIV)

Jesus called Peter and Andrew (and all of His disciples, including you and me) from their business - fishing - to His business - fishing for people. This calling is a profound calling that has implications for who we are and how we live.

There is plenty of peer pressure for us to follow the culture. There is plenty of fallen sin nature instinct to follow our own appetites and desires. There is plenty of advice from self-help gurus to follow our dreams. Jesus calls us to follow Him. He calls us to align our will with His will for us. He calls us to love Him as He first loved us, and out of that love to obey His commands.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23 NIV)

The way to be filled with the presence of the Living God is to love Jesus so much that love for Him becomes our primary motivating factor in our life choices. "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching." In its purest form, obedience is not about clenching our teeth and submitting to some tyrant God who says, "Thou shalt not!" Obedience in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ is about a desire to please Him born out of loving the One who loved us so completely He laid down His life on a Cross to redeem us from sin and death.

Think of Westly, who loves the Princess Bride so fully that he serves her daily, meeting her every request with, "As you wish."

Here's another thing about Jesus' call to follow Him. In the first century, one did not apply to become a disciple of a Rabbi. One did not take the SAT exam to get into the Rabbi's school. The Rabbi called his own disciples to leave everything, follow him, live with him and learn from him. Jesus tells us He does just that with every one of us!

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." (John 15:16 NIV)

By Jesus's calling, we are claimed as His own. We don't have to wonder if He wants a relationship with us. He calls us to it. Because of the effects of our fallen sin nature, we cannot even desire a relationship with God unless He works in our lives to draw us to Himself. John Wesley called this Prevenient Grace - the grace that woos us into a relationship with God. Prevenient Grace is the action of the Holy Spirit to cause us to understand we are sinners who need a Savior. It is God working to make Himself known to us and to draw us to Christ.

You are loved. You are wanted. You are being courted by God. The One who says, "Come, follow me," longs to know you and be known by you. The invitation is issued to every human being. Our part is to drop the business of our lives (our nets) and follow Jesus.

One final observation. The call to follow Jesus is not just a call into a relationship, it is a call into a new vocation. Jesus calls the fishermen to fish - for people. The call of Jesus Christ on every believer who follows Him is a call to fish. It is a call to make a witness to the lost world of the love and grace of a Savior. It is a call to make Jesus known to lost, hurting, broken people. It is the call to fulfill the second greatest commandment identified by Jesus Himself: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Fishing for people is not just the business of pastors and missionaries. It is the business of the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ, incarnate in the world. The Church's mission is the mission of Jesus.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV)

The Church of Jesus Christ is not a social service agency, running food pantries and helping after disasters like floods or hurricanes. The Church is a rescue operation, saving lives from the destruction of sin and death. Running food pantries and showing up after disasters is part of making the witness of the love and caring of God for people. But our business is His business, and that business is laid out in the three Scripture passages above.

And here's the thing: the Church is not an institution. The Church is not a building. The congregation I currently serve - a start-up congregation of the Global Methodist Church - has no building except what we rent to meet in on Sundays. The Church is a living organism composed of its people. We are the Church. You are the Church.

And that means every follower of Jesus is called to fish. We are called to make His business our business. We are called to be Christ followers who teach school, not Christian school teachers. We are Christians who repair cars, not Christian mechanics. The real vocation is not the job we do to earn a living. The real vocation is the same vocation Jesus called Peter and Andrew to: fishing for people.

So love Jesus fully and align your life to His teachings and commands. Love Jesus fully, and love people enough to make Him known to them. Love Jesus fully, and love people sacrificially, just as you have been loved. Follow Jesus, and fish for people. In whatever ways He calls and commands, make a witness to others that Jesus is real, and that He is changing your life. That's what being a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about.


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