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The Call (Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 6:40)

     I was reading this week from a book by Francis Chan about discipleship and I was struck by something that he said that the Spirit has used to sort of guide me in a direction for us to start our New Year as a church. This is what he wrote, “The whole point of being a disciple of Jesus is: we imitate Him, carry on His ministry, and become like Him in the process. Yet somehow many have come to believe that a person can be a ‘Christian’ without being like Christ. A ‘follower’ who doesn’t follow. How does that make any sense?”
    How does that make any sense? How can you be a Christian without following Christ? How can you be a Christian and not imitate Him? How can you be a Christian and not carry on His ministry? How can you be a Christian and not become like Christ? You really can’t…yet we do!
    But…the Bible says…we can’t. We can’t be a Christian and not imitate Christ, not do His work, not become like Him.
    I want to look at two passages in the Bible this morning, and look at what happened when Jesus called disciples.
    Join me in Matthew 4:18-22. “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was 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.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”
    This is the calling of the first disciples, the first ones who would follow Jesus around for a little over three years, who would imitate Him and do His work and become like Him. We’re told that Jesus first called Peter and his brother Andrew, and then James and his brother John.
    What Jesus said to them is simple, and it’s the same thing He says to us. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It’s simple, but as I said before, we do a really great job of not following through with it. So, let’s break it down for us.
    “Follow me”. That’s the first part, right? Follow me.
    We misunderstand that word, though, “follow”. Today, it means that you press a button on your social media page and you’ll “follow” what someone else posts. But that’s obviously not what Jesus is saying. He doesn’t just want us to see what He says. He doesn’t just want us to like it or think it’s funny.
    So, what does He mean when He told the disciples, “Follow me”, and what does He mean when He calls us to do the same?
    Following Jesus means that we become His disciple. This is a very radical call. It doesn’t mean that we just say we’re Christians. It’s a radical demand that is required to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
    If you’re following along in your bulletins this morning, you’ll see two blanks. Following Jesus means that He calls us to “Let go of all human security and human aspirations/dreams.”
    That’s a radical call. Let go of all your human security. Everything that makes you feel safe: your home, your car, your family, your friends, your job. All of them you must be willing to let go of at any time for the sake of Christ. We’re to count it all as lost.
    Let go of all your human aspirations/dreams. Nothing’s wrong with wanting to provide for your family or to feel fulfilled in what you do in life. But the call to the Kingdom of God is so radical that true disciples of Jesus have to be willing to let go of our human dreams for the sake of the Kingdom.
    In Matthew 13:44-46, Jesus gives a parable about a treasure a man found in a field, and He compared it to the Kingdom of God. And the point that He made with that parable was that there is absolutely nothing here on earth that is worth more than the treasure of God’s Kingdom. His Kingdom is a precious treasure, and if we were wise, we would be willing to give up anything for the sake of gaining His Kingdom and to make sure others gain the Kingdom, too.
    In John 8:12 Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and He tells them that whoever follows Him will walk in light, and not in darkness. And He says this just after they had gathered to stone the woman who had been caught in adultery. When she saw that after Jesus had spoken to them there was no one left to condemn her, He told her “Go. From now on sin no more.”
    To follow Him, we must become His disciple. Being Jesus’ disciple means we go and sin no more. We can’t keep purposefully living a life of sin and follow Jesus at the same time. Sin and Christianity are incompatible.
    Charles Spurgeon, who has some great writings about living a true Christian life said that, “There must be a divorce between you and sin or there can be no marriage between you and Christ.”
    Being His disciple means that we walk with Him. If we walk with Him, then He is the one directing us where to walk. Psalm 128:1 says, “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways.” If we’re going to walk with Him, we have to walk in His ways.
    Being His disciple means that we obey Him. Deuteronomy 13:4 says, “You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” We follow Him by obeying Him.
    So then in order to obey Him, we have to know what He says. This is why it is so vitally important for us to be Christians who read the Bible. It is the very Word of God, it is His words to us. So if we’re going to obey Him, we have to read what He says to us. We have to know His words.
    This verse says that we also follow Him by listening to Him. The Bible is His Word, that’s true. But Christ’s disciples must also be actively listening to Him. This happens through prayer and meditation on God’s Word, but mainly prayer. In prayer, we hear from God’s Spirit living in us.
    Finally, if we’re going to be a disciple of Christ, we must love Him. Matthew 22:37 tells us to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Jesus calls it the greatest commandment, and since being a disciple of Christ means obeying Him, we would be wise to obey the greatest command.
    So, follow Him. Let go of your human security and dreams for the sake of gaining the Kingdom. Be His disciple. Walk with Him, obey Him, love Him, listen to Him.
    And… “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus used this term with Peter, Andrew, James, and John because they were fishers and they understood the meaning.
    This is a call to active service. It is not passive. You cannot just sit in your boats.
    The life of a fisherman was very active. The act of casting out nets, and hauling them in full of fish was a very labor intensive way to earn your money. It was hard work. It was sometimes disappointing work, as well. We’re given a story at the end of John, after Jesus’ resurrection when He appeared to His disciples as they were fishing and they were having rotten luck catching anything. He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and then they caught tons of fish! So, we can see that there were times when fishermen didn’t catch anything!
    Jesus used their occupation to teach us about being His disciples, and what it means for us to be fishers of men. It is a call to go and cast a net to save sinners from the pit of hell. It is an active call. Like I already said, you can’t just sit in the boat, which we could say is the church, and expect that people will just come and save themselves. We have to go find them. We have to go get them. It’s an active thing. And it’s a hard thing, yes. And sometimes, you’ll cast nets and not catch anyone. And that’s why it’s all the more important to be listening to the Spirit, because when the nets go out and they come back empty, He may tell you to cast a net on the other side of the boat!
    So we cast nets, and we bring sinners into the body of Christ, into the boat. And…we teach them to be His disciple, too. We teach them to walk with Him. We teach them to obey Him. We teach them to love Him. We teach them to listen to Him.
    That’s the Great Commission, isn’t it? Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
    Follow Him. Go, cast the nets, and teach them to be His disciples.
    I want to close with Luke 6:40 today, and a challenge to us all. Let’s look at Luke 6:40 together, “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Jesus spoke this just after His teaching about judging yourself before judging others, to make sure that you are without fault before you find fault in others. It’s just after His call to the disciples and others gathered there to be as merciful as God is merciful.
    This verse that tells us that students will be like their teachers points out the importance of who you learn from. The idea here is that you will take on the traits of those who teach you, that you will become like those who you follow. So, it’s important to choose the right teacher, to choose the right person to follow. Why? Because you will begin to look like whatever or whoever you follow most closely.
    Disciples will look like their teachers.
    So, here’s the challenge? Who do you look like?
    I know we all want to say, “I look like Jesus, I’m His disciple.”
    But do we really look like Jesus? Are our words always like Jesus’ words? Are our actions always like Jesus’ actions? Are our thoughts always like Jesus’ thoughts?
    The answer is no. No matter who you are, no matter how long you have been a disciple of Christ, there is always room for us to grow closer to Him. There’s always ways to become better disciples, disciples who follow more closely and who look more like our teacher. The key is to never be complacent with how close you are with Him now. Never stop growing. Never stop praying. Never stop loving Him and listening Him. Actively seek to be His disciple more each day.

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