Following Jesus

“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people!’” (Matthew 4:19 NLT)

The verse above gives us the words Jesus used to call His first disciples – Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew, who were fishermen by trade. To some of His disciples, like Matthew, Jesus simply said “Follow Me.” What’s important for us to learn from this verse about following Jesus?

First, Jesus calls out to us. His Holy Spirit will create an unmistakable “tug” or “pull” on our heart. This could be at church or anyplace else. For several of the original twelve, they were working when Jesus called them. Others came through an invitation from a friend or relative. But please don’t misunderstand, an invitation to church doesn’t in and of itself comprise a call to follow Jesus. It took me a few months after I began to attend church before I became a Christ-follower, but some come to the Lord in another context, then find a church family with whom to worship and grow.

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Second, Jesus leads us, He doesn’t push us. To follow Jesus is a voluntary, volitional act of our will. Peter and Andrew, like every other Christ-follower since, recognized that Jesus was inviting them into a whole new way of life. Following Jesus isn’t something we add to our already busy life, it’s a decision to allow the Lord to reorient everything about our life. I’ve said before, it’s not necessarily WHAT we do – we can be a professional, blue collar, or homeless – unless it’s illegal and/or immoral, Jesus usually shifts our thinking about what we do and helps us understand who we’re really working for.

Notice Jesus said to fishermen, “I will make you fishers of people.” Why is that important? Becoming a follower of Christ may not mean you have to change careers or jobs like these fishermen did. The important thing is whatever kind of work you do, or did if you’re retired, the Lord will use the skills you have to equip you to be fruitful in reaching those in your spheres of influence, which will now become your new “mission field,” whether they are your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or those with whom you enjoy recreation.

At some point the Lord may lead you in a new direction, but initially what He most often does is change your attitude regarding your work. You no longer work for XYZ company, you work for Jesus. Your check may say “XYZ Company,” but Jesus is just using them to pay you. Jesus is your provider.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:5: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.” In our context it’s more appropriate to think of employer/employee relationships; however, if the concept of slavery in the context of following Jesus is offensive, you need to get over it. Three of the most prominent leaders in the early Church – Peter, James, and John – each of them began their letters in the Bible by identifying themselves as “a slave of Jesus Christ.”

Thirdly, He will “show us” (teach us) how to reach people in our spheres of influence. So many today believe going to church, serving, giving money, and living a respectable life is the sum total of what it means to follow Jesus. While those things are important, they were never intended to take the place of reaching our family and friends with the Good News of why Jesus came and what He accomplished on our behalf.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’”

Here’s the truth: we tell people about what’s important to us. Who has a child and doesn’t tell anyone? Who gets a new job, new house, new car, etc. and doesn’t want to share the “good news?” There is no better news than to share “I once was blind, but now I see! I was headed to a Christless eternity, but now heaven will be my home when I leave this earth!”

Following Jesus is THE GREATEST PRIVILEGE AFFORDED MANKIND! There’s literally NOTHING that can compare with knowing, loving, and following Jesus!

Blessings, Ed 😊

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