Friday, November 4, 2011

Real Evidence of Discipleship (Mt 4:18-22).

Matt 4:18-22 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 make you fishers of men."  At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. 

Jesus' first disciples were two sets of brothers--Peter & Andrew, James & John. And they were both busy casting or preparing their nets to catch fish. Jesus came and invited them to a higher call - no longer catching fishes, but catching men. A few observations about the kind of people Jesus selected to be His followers:

1. They were busy people: Peter & Andrew were busy casting a net into the lake, while James and John were busy preparing their nets. A person's potential for greater work of the Gospel is demonstrated first in their faithfulness to their secular vocation. God calls busy people because busy people are motivated people. "I'm very busy" is not an excuse for not getting into Kingdom work but the very reason for Kingdom work.

2. They were fishermen: Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to become "fishers of men" precisely because they were fishermen. Their vocational skills and knowledge were transferable to Kingdom work. God has already prepared them for spiritual work through their "secular" vocation even before they were called. It is important for Christians who are currently working in the marketplace not to think of their work as irrelevant to the ministry God has called them to do. In fact, our workplace may be the ground where our ministry takes place. Nevertheless, just as God has prepared Moses for leadership of Israel through the wilderness by letting him spend 40 years leading flocks of sheep in the same area, so He has prepared each one of us who are in the marketplace for the same kind of work & ministry. Ministry should not be seen as "recreational" -- something different we do from our work to serve as a "break" from the daily grind of the workplace. Rather, ministry is simply an extension of what we do in the marketplace - using the same attitudes, skills and knowledge for Kingdom work.

3. They left their nets & boats: Once they caught the larger vision of the Kingdom ministry, we read that Peter and Andrew "left their nets" while James and John "left the boat and their father" to follow Jesus. For some people, God may call us to let go of our secular jobs in order to give ourselves full-time to Kingdom work. But Kingdom work is not be equated with church work. There are many expressions of Kingdom work -- and Kingdom work ought to be done in places where people are not members of the Kingdom. Such people are seldom found inside the four walls of the church on Sunday mornings! Jesus and His disciples moved from place to place in the marketplace of their days. They ran their "services" in publicly accessible places - marketplaces, open spaces (mountain plains), etc. The only "confined" places they conducted their "services" were in home and in the outer courts of the temple precinct.

Jesus called his disciples to follow Him so that they could become "fishers of men." The implication is that they were to do their ministry among people who were non-followers of Jesus. Jesus' call to ministry is not to fish for fishes already in the aquariums (translated "churches"), but to go where fishes are uncaught, viz., in the marketplace. Unfortunately, roughly 80-90% of a typical church budget is spent on staff and maintenance of buildings that are used primarily for "members only." We need to reverse the percentages - to release the bulk of our church budget to fish for the lost, not just feeding the fishes in the acquarium. In fact, the fishes that are caught should be taught to follow Jesus so that they would evolve into fishers of men, not remain fishes requiring constant care and nurture.

The real test of obedience of Christians to the Lord is not evidenced by their bible knowledge but evidenced by the number of lost fishes they have caught for God's Kingdom. This is Jesus' intended goal when He invites us to follow Him: "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." What a privilege and joy to see people coming into the Kingdom!

Father, help us all to follow You diligently so that we may become fishers of men. Amen.

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