CALLED TO MORE

2022! It’s a new year y’all. Time for a resolution. Time to get rid of social media or something… Fortunately, I’m not a big social media guy, though I do like YouTube. I can catch a football game in 15 minutes and see all the plays that matter. I can watch scientifically minded people turn small cans of liquid into oozing mountains of color. One of my favorite things is to watch a movie critic break down the plot of a great film. Often, the next time I watch that movie, I have a whole new understanding of what happens in the early scenes and why it is important. A few years ago, I was given a Harmony of the Gospels, which lines up the events of Christ’s life and ministry chronologically, and it had a similar effect. In many cases, it gave some clarity, but in a few, it totally changed how I understood key events in Jesus’ work of making disciples.

In Matthew 4:12-25, we observe some important shifts in the ministry of Jesus. He begins a public cry for repentance, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. He also changes His call for those who have been following Him. He issues a challenge for them to truly commit to discipleship and begin learning how to do something they did not think they could do.

For a long time, I thought this was the first time Jesus interacted with these four fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. I imagined a stranger walking up to these four, calling them to follow him and fish for people, and being so charismatic that they ignored the weirdness of the invitation and rolled with it. The lesson there was simple: If God overwhelms you with a sense of calling to reach the lost, then you are surely one of those special people God can use to change the world. Since I had not experienced that, I assumed that being a good person and regular church attender was sufficient Christian living.

Reading this passage in the Harmony of the Gospels changed that picture entirely. The book of John gives chronological insight to what happened between Matt 4:11 and 4:12. John the Baptist had sent his disciples to follow Jesus, and they went to get others. This group included Andrew, Simon, and probably John the writer. We see them following Jesus to a wedding in Cana, a feast in Jerusalem, and a well in Samaria. Then they part ways while He returns to Nazareth, and they return to fishing. They had followed Him, watched Him, marveled at Him, and were surely talking about Him when they were fishing. What would He do next? Would they get to come along and see more?

Seeing it this way, I understood this was not some stranger, walking up and inviting them to follow Him into a vague journey. He was their friend, trusted Rabbi, and their hope of Messianic salvation. They had observed long enough. He was calling them into the next step of discipleship. It was time to stop simply watching. It was time to begin hands on training, so they could join Him. The lesson changes: this is not a rare calling that only a few receive. This is the call for all believers. We cannot stand behind Jesus and watch forever, as He uses others to change the world. We are all called to begin hands on learning, so we can join in the work. We are all Called to More. It’s 2022 friends! Resolve to take the next step.

by Ben Urban, Pastor of Student Ministries

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