In our last post, we asked an important question. Should we be following our hearts? If God tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick, should we really be giving them any equity in leading us? We ended that post by saying that Christians should be following Jesus Christ. He is not deceitful or sick. He stands and bids us, “Follow me.” We, then, get to decide if we want to follow our heart’s feelings or our Savior’s leadings.
I want to examine the call of Jesus in this week’s post. When He offers us to follow Him, what does it actually look like? We can gain much clarity on this if we look at Jesus calling His first disciples. Four chapters into the New Testament, we see Jesus start seeking His people and calling them. Much can be learned from these encounters! Let’s look at the very first one.
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:18-19)
Two brothers, minding their own business and doing what they always did, heard ten compelling words from a random Man. “Follow me,” Jesus said to them. “I will make you fishers of men.” Simon Peter and Andrew had given their lives to fishing for fish. This was their means of earning an income. A random man was now telling them that they would instead be fishing for men. Can you imagine how strange that would be? Did they quite understand it? Maybe not, but the call was clearly compelling enough for them to leave their livelihood behind.
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20)
There was no hesitation with the brothers. They immediately left everything to follow this Man’s call. We could easily talk about their instant obedience and how we need to have that kind of faith in Jesus’ leading of our lives. However, I want to simply examine what Jesus was actually calling the brothers, and us, to. “I will make you fishers of men.” What does that look like? Are you ready to follow it? Will you leave the nets behind?
In making them fishers of men, Jesus was clearly referring to following Him out to seek and save lost souls. Jesus had come to bring salvation to the world, and He was graciously inviting the brothers to join Him. Here is the crazy thing: He invites us to the same thing! We often miss out on this invitation while following our heart’s desires for other things. You see, if we follow our hearts and our feelings, we are likely going to stay in the boat with the nets. Our hearts will tell us, “Keep fishing. Do what you’ve always done.” Our Savior tells us, “Go and fish for men.”
Following Jesus is simply submitting to His plans of reaching the world. In theory, that sounds somewhat easy, does it not? However, we have hearts full of desires that want to keep us in the boat. Our hearts often want predictable, steady, and safe plans. Following Jesus is often a step by step, unpredictable trusting in His leading. Do you think Simon Peter and Andrew ever had doubts about their decision to leave the boat? Would you if you were in their shoes? A steady income and the ease of normalcy probably sounded more than appetizing to the brothers at certain times. In those moments, though, they knew they were walking with a Man they could trust. There is the key!
In Jesus’ call for us to follow Him and fish for men, we must decide if we really trust Him to lead us. Do we truly believe that following Him is better than following our deceitful hearts? Fishing for men is not going to place the major emphasis on the 401(k). Are we okay with that? Fishing for men is not going to make sure that the next five years are perfectly mapped out with no hiccups. No, following Jesus and fishing for men leaves us with a singular focus: reaching people with the Gospel. Your heart may struggle with that idea, but you must decide if the Man calling you is trustworthy and worth leaving the nets for.
You must know that Jesus is not stressing over worldly things. Therefore, following Him does not revolve around worldly things. Jesus is not concerned about being ready for retirement or upgrading the house. According to Him, He had nowhere to lay His head while He was on earth (Matthew 8:20). If all that consumes you are earthly things and earthly desires, it is likely a sign that your heart is the rudder of your life. Jesus is steadily focused on fishing for men. If your life reflects that same desire, you are in good hands as you continue to follow Him. Will it be easy? No. Will your heart wander and try to crave worldly things? Yes. However, those craving are deceitful. The worldly option of staying with the nets will leave you unsatisfied and empty every time. Jesus calls you into something much better.
Do you want to experience life? Not just ordinary life, but real, meaningful life? If so, then take Jesus up on His invitation. Deny your heart’s desires and follow Him out to fish for men. It will not always be easy. It will, however, always be worth it. It is the only path to true life. The emptiness of deceitful, worldly desires will begin to fade as you take more and more steps behind Jesus. In calling us to become fishers of men, He is in other words saying, “I have more for you than the emptiness that your heart is after. Give your life away for the things that I gave my life away for. Leave your nets and leave your mark on this world. Follow me into life.” Do not wait.