Archive for July, 2009
They were fishermen, men who worked the Lake of Galilee in northern Israel. The lake was full of fish, and a man could make a good living working there, especially if he knew what he was doing. Simon and Andrew, brothers born into a family of fishermen, knew their trade. It might not make them rich, but they would never go hungry. It was a safe, secure way of life.
The account of what happened is fairly brief: “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16-18).
We do need to understand that this wasn’t the first time Andrew and his brother had seen Jesus; they had spent a day with him once, listening to his teachings. (John 1:35-42). Still, I can’t help but be amazed at what happens when Jesus called these men. They left their nets and followed him. More than nets, they left their father and a thriving fishing business. They left their home and the life they knew.
How did Jesus convince them? Did he lay out an educational plan of the training they would receive over the next few years? Did he discuss health coverage and benefits? No. Jesus didn’t even talk to them about eternal life, the greatest benefit of all. He merely said, “Come, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Jesus offered them a life of purpose. He offered them the chance to be involved in the work that God is doing in this world. That was enough to make them leave the comfortable life they had.
Jesus still says, “Come, follow me.” There’s more to it, of course, but in the end, it comes down to a simple invitation. Come. Come let me give purpose to your life. Come be a part of God’s activity in this world.
If you are totally satisfied with your life now, if you have no desire to do more and be more, then Jesus’ offer won’t interest you. If you’re pleased with the present state of the world and don’t feel any urge to work to make it better, you may not see the point.
BUT if you’ve been waiting for the chance to be part of something bigger than yourself, the chance is here. The time is now. “Come, follow me,” Jesus says. The offer still stands.
Maybe it is time for some of us Christians to apologize. In our desire to have others become Christians, we may have been less than honest with our non-Christian friends. We have talked in terms of “converting”, “being saved”, “joining with us”, and other religious sounding words. In truth, becoming a Christian can be explained by a much simpler term: it is an invitation to die.
Becoming a Christian requires you to die. Jesus came to this world because God wanted you to live with him forever. He offers eternal life. The perfect God wants the imperfect man to live with Him forever. He made that possible by letting Jesus die for all the things we did that were unlike God. Jesus came here to die for you, so you could live.
But to do that requires you to die with him. Jesus often talked about losing ones life to find it. He used illustrations of seeds dying to produce life. Paul, one of the early followers of Jesus, talks of being crucified with Jesus. The response to Jesus of being immersed in water is referred to as being “baptized into his death”.
So if we as Christians have ever left the impression that following Jesus is anything short of dying to yourself so that you can live… then we are sorry. It is the ultimate commitment – just as Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. So following Jesus is not really about us. It is about him. We surrender, give up our lives, die with him. All so we can live. Forever.
Maybe that even explains why some who would call themselves Christians do not live much differently than the world. It is because they never died. So the decision to be baptized into Jesus is not just an act you do. It is not just a step you take. It is not just a doctrine you believe. It is a death you die.
by Bill Brant
It doesn’t say if he ran or how far he went or whether he was out of breath when he got there. It does say “the first thing he did” was find his brother. There was an immediate sense of urgency in what he needed to do.
That story is tucked away in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Verses 41 and 42 state: “The first thing Andrew did was find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ And he brought him to Jesus.”
The procedure is relatively simple: Find something eternally important, tell someone about it right away, then take them to it. That’s what Andrew did. Each of us can be a part of the Andrew Factor. Telling about Jesus and then bringing the one to whom you are talking to Jesus.
Most of the time Christians are good about proclaiming Jesus. We just have trouble with the bringing part. We are afraid of offending or rejection, abhor being uncomfortable. Imagine what wouldn’t have happened if Andrew hadn’t brought Simon Peter to Jesus.
The Andrew factor tells about Jesus, asks for the commitment, then takes people to Jesus.
Who was your Andrew?
What would have happened to you if no one told you about Jesus?
Do you have the Andrew Factor?
My back hurts today. A reminder of yard work done a few days ago. My left heel hurts, the result of a heel spur that has developed over time. My knee was bothering me a bit this morning, that chronic tendonitis that shows up every once in a while. Shall I go on?
Of course not. You’ve got your own list of aches and pains, and, if you’re like me, the list grows longer every year. My father, with the effects of three decades more of life than I have, is currently in the hospital due to a degenerative condition.
As those renowned philosophers the Rolling Stones said, “What a drag it is getting old.”
The Bible has this to say: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) That’s an encouraging point of view! No one can deny that our bodies are slowly wearing out; that’s a discouraging fact if this life is all we have. But God gives us another chance, another reality. Our physical selves grow older, but God is willing to renew our inner beings, if we’ll let him.
If we keep reading there in 2 Corinthians, we read: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) This life doesn’t have to be all there is. Those of us who are Christians can look forward to a wonderful life that has not end. We can’t see it yet, but we know it’s there. We know by faith.
We can live accepting the fact that each day will grow more painful, that each year will find our bodies weaker and weaker. Or we can go to God in faith and let him renew us on the inside, making us stronger and stronger each day. If you aren’t living this reality, let me tell you about what God can do for you, of the hope he can give you for this life and the life to come.