And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (Mat 4:18-20 NKJV)
So how have you experienced the call of God and to what were you called?
Peter, Andrew, James and John were going about their lives, minding their own business working a vocation as fishermen. Then they were called by Jesus into a new vocation of fishing for men. Some have preached messages on this call, believing that this is the calling of every disciple.
How were you called and to what were you called?
Many folks today make much out of the fact that they are saved from sin and that Jesus called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. However, they seem to choke a bit if you ask them what God has called them to beyond salvation. Perhaps you are one of these people.
No doubt there is already an argument forming in your mind when I ask this question. Even as you squirm in your seat or feel a little heat under your collar, you might be saying something like this. “But, John, not all of us are called to go into Missions. Some are called to go and some are called to send.”
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that statement from “Christians,” I would be a wealthy man.
Another common excuse coming right on the heels of the first one is, “Brother John, I can serve the Lord in my job right here. There’s an incredible mission field outside my door. You won’t believe the type of people I work around!”
My original question is not whether you were called into missions, but rather “To what were you called by Jesus?”
I have been reflecting on this question, especially considering how Jesus called His disciples. I believe that God has called us into His life and light so that He can shine His light through us in the ongoing mission to reconcile the world to God. So, my original question has less to do with where you are or why you think you should stay there, and focuses rather on whether or not you know to what you were called.
Some people experience the call of God to salvation and are thrilled with the new joy and freedom, but they never really process beyond that. Many people think forgiveness of sin and freedom from the penalty of sin is the end game. But is it?
Jesus, in speaking to Nicodemus, seemed to indicate that being “born again” is simply an entrance into His Kingdom. God calls us through the door of salvation to be operate in His Kingdom as kings, priests, ambassadors, and witnesses to name just a few of the occupations. Yet many of us are content to just walk through the door and stand on the welcome mat and we spend the rest of our time trying to defend our position and excuse our fear of moving into the Kingdom.
These are the folks who will react when they hear a missionary or Christian worker ask them a question about calling. They immediately consider how to justify their position rather than seriously consider the question of their calling.
If you are one who is hard pressed to come up with an answer to the question of what God has called you to do, you would fit in with a large percentage of western Christians. Because of our wealth, freedom and opportunities, most American and Canadian Christians feel that God would never call them away from their good paying jobs and secure finances to live on faith and pursue ministry as a full time occupation. Since we have wealth and disposable income, we assume that we are called to “send” rather than “go.” Even then, “Sending” is often not a priority until our own financial goals are achieved.
But back to our question, “What has God called you to be and do?”
While four of the disciples were called to spiritualize their livelihood and “Fish for men,” the majority of the disciples were called with two simple words “FOLLOW ME.”
I am really glad that Jesus, in calling Matthew, who was a tax collector, didn’t call him to be a tax collector in the Kingdom of God. He simply called out “Follow Me.” And a beautiful thing happened, Matthew did just that.
God also called Thomas, who seemed to have a predisposition to pessimism. Jesus didn’t call Thomas to be Mr. Pessimist in the Kingdom. I realize that many Christians today believe they are called to carry on this tradition of pessimism and fear (also known as unbelief) but what God called Thomas, and even Judas to do was, “Follow Me.”
It appears that in the recorded calling of the disciples, they all received the call to follow Jesus. There might have been more added to the call, as in the case of the four fishermen, but it certainly was no less than “Follow Me.”
I believe that if we have heard any call from Jesus, it is to follow Him. It may mean that we follow Him onto a mission field of full time Christian service. Or it could mean following Him on mission to your workplace or your neighborhood. It could mean simply following Him through pain, suffering or loss. Where ever He wants us to go, His intent is that we follow Him to that place.
I am thankful that when Jesus calls us, He doesn’t send us on mission blazing our own trail. No matter what the specifics, I believe the call always begins with “Follow Me.” For He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.” Hebrews 13:5