Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fishers of People

Today many of us will hear the invitation stories of Jesus.  It's early in his career, and he's inviting people to come and see what he's all about.  He'll make them fishers of people!  And some of them drop their nets and leave everything behind.

Later in one of the Gospels, Jesus will heal Peter's mother-in-law.  I remember the first time that idea sunk in.  Mother-in-law?  Does that mean that Peter had a wife?  What happened to her?

I always thought of these early disciples as very young.  But in a recent post, a friend of mine who's recently been to the Holy Land, dispels that idea.  While he was there, the group went to an archaeological site, and he considers the implication of these recent finds:  "This archaeological discovery is important because it dispels the myth that Peter and Andrew, James and John, were peasant fishermen. In fact, they were middle class business men who most likely had a fleet of fishing boats and lived a comfortable lifestyle."

In some ways, it's easy to give up everything for Jesus when one is young and hasn't made commitments yet.  When one is middle-aged and has a mother-in-law--with all the commitments that relationship implies--it's harder.

But maybe the reality is that it's hard, no matter at what age the invitation comes.  My friend has an interesting take on this question of what it means to follow Jesus.  He approaches the question from the standpoint of what it means to leave everything behind to follow Jesus.  He asks what we need to leave behind--and it's not necessarily our in-laws or our mortgages: 

"Some of us will need to leave behind our need to simply make more money and feather our nests, and learn the values of service and generosity. Others will need to leave behind our need to be in charge our our own destiny and trust Jesus to be in control of our lives. Some will need to leave behind our fears of what the future will bring and venture into the great unknown. Others will have to leave behind our need to control or manipulate other people, and ask how we can best serve our neighbors."

It's a question that we should never have too far away from our consciousnesses.  It's hard to stay focused on the triune God.  So many things pull our attention away from God.  What do we need to leave behind to be better followers?

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