The Call to Follow
Jesus called Simon and Andrew from their fishing business to His business of fishing for people. In a very real sense, I believe every one of us has a calling moment in our lives.
I believe Jesus beakons that we come and follow Him into a life of making Him known to others. Saying yes to the call to follow Jesus certainly brings us into a new and right relationship with God. By faith in Christ our sins are forgiven and heaven becomes our birthright. But there's more.
Following Jesus means becoming more and more like Him. More and more Christlike. More and more holy and loving. And more and more intent on His mission - which He states in Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Here's the rub. The only way to become like Jesus in life is to follow Him into death. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'" (Matthew 16:24 NIV)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. His writings on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book, The Cost of Discipleship, is described as a modern classic. In that book, Bonhoeffer says this:
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.
When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.” (Emphasis mine)
Whoever wants to be Jesus' disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him. Follow Him into the death of our self-orientation so love for God and love for others may be unleashed in our lives. Following Jesus is much more than simply being washed clean of sin and guaranteed eternal life. That's just the starting point.
Following Jesus means giving over my heart to transformation by God's Holy Spirit. It means having sin and selfishness rooted out of me and the love of Jesus flourishing in me. It means living a life of witness. It means living by the values of the Kingdom of God in the midst of a broken and fallen world. It means loving my wife and children. It means being kind to strangers. It means turning the other cheek. It means forgiving past wounds and grievances. It means serving others. It means serving others. It means serving others.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19 NIV)
The call moment for every one of us is the same. Follow Jesus. Fish for people. (Not harpoon them!) Receive His love. Make His love known. Receive grace from Him and give grace to others. It's who we are as followers of the Master.
Bonhoeffer is right. When Christ calls a person, He bids them come and die. In order to truly live. Come, Holy Spirit, put to death in me all that hinders new life in Christ!