Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 10, 2010

A Call to Discipleship

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Charles Sheldon wrote a challenging book called In His Steps. In this book Henry Maxwell is the pastor of First Church Raymond. A visitor about 33 years old out of work walked to the front of the church and asks what does it mean to follow Christ? He collapsed and died three days later.

A group from First Church Raymond decided to live their life by one principle, what would Jesus do? Their goal was to follow Jesus as He taught his disciples. It was described as something more than just happened to individuals or a church, but a movement that turned into a revolution.

Imagine a group of people that did only what they believed is what Jesus would have them do. An ordinary church was transformed. Those who made the commitment to make each decision by the criteria, “What would Jesus do.” Their lives were never the same.

Take Edward Norman the editor of the Raymondville newspaper. His life was ordinary enough until he took the pledge. He took a stand on moral issues. He would not accept advertising from the liquor industry. He decided not to run a Sunday newspaper. The paper lost advertising dollars, but he produced a paper to the honor and glory of God.

There was Donald Marsh the president of Lincoln College. He taught ethics and took a stand against corruption of city officials and a riot resulted. Real Christ-like values conflict with society. It was the same story for businessmen, respected ladies, doctors all were changed when they lived in total surrender to Jesus.

Is this just a story? Yes, but let’s look at what did really happen when Jesus called his disciples. This speaks of the real life story of people who followed Jesus.

Mark 1:16-20 (NIV)

 16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him.

 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

For Jesus to accomplish his mission to spread the good news to all men everywhere he would need to train a group of disciples. He could never do it alone in three years. Discipleship is a vital issue today. We need true disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is radical. Christ bids us to die to self, take up a cross. What a transformation if believers would live out the songs we sing.

“I have decided to follow Jesus, though none go with me I still will follow”

“All for Jesus, all for Jesus, all my beings ransomed power”  

“Jesus, I my cross have taken all to leave and follow thee”

Being a faithful disciple of Jesus does not take a PhD. It is very simple to understand. A disciple just simply means a totally transformed life obedient to Jesus whatever the cost.

The Invitation: come follow me

 In this passage Jesus calls four of the twelve disciples. They are two sets of brothers; Peter and Andrew who are disciples of John the Baptist and James and John. All four are fishermen. In both cases the two brothers were fishing together.

Peter and Andrew were by themselves and James and John were with their father and servants. Jesus came to everyday people in real life situations. Jesus says come follow me. When Jesus invited someone to follow him it is a call to commitment.

Jesus gives you a similar invitation. There comes a point of definite decision. The disciples were faced with a choice. They could leave what they knew and follow or stay.  We have the same promise. Jesus will make them fishers of men.

Don’t worry about your qualifications, but your willingness. There is still persecution when you stand up for Jesus. There is still sacrifice and leaving security. They were called to abandon what they possessed, their secure business and family. But with that adventure comes the most thrilling adventure ever known in experiencing God’s purpose in your life. All of them were killed except John who was imprisoned for his faith.      

The Task: I will make you fishers of men.

Jesus uses a metaphor with these fishermen. He calls every disciple to be involved in telling others about Jesus. He calls all of us to living a transformed life that manifests the powers of Christ. Instead of casting out the net for fish Jesus calls them to put out the gospel that saves. The task of these disciples would be to continue the work that Christ begun.

Jesus trusted his work to these disciples he called. His ministry lasted only three years and he trained a group of men to carry it on. When you become a disciple of Jesus you take on the task and responsibility to carry on the work Jesus began to seek and to save the lost.

Jesus said go and make disciples. Your task as a disciple is to make disciples. You are to become a fisher of men. Jesus expects nothing less than total obedience.

Your response?

What a blessing the way the disciples responded to Jesus call. They responded with readiness, with urgency each one left what they had straightaway, at once.

Were they being foolish? What if they had decided to cling to their security as fishermen? How small in comparison to what they did in following Jesus as a disciple. They turned their world upside down. Would you follow Christ? You can change the world. You can make a difference if you live for Jesus.

 Following Jesus means self surrender. They forsook their nets. They left their father in the boat to let hired servants do that work. After they gave up everything they followed Jesus. We cannot truly follow Jesus without forsaking our plans, our motives and our desires. They led a life of serving others.  

 They did become fishers of men. They followed Jesus and go themselves ready. You need to get to make disciples of others. Are you prepared to sacrifice to serve Christ? To follow Jesus means to live with a radical commitment.

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