At Marshfield First Baptist this year we are focusing on living out our faith in “ReaLife.” Jesus called his disciples to follow him. He calls us to do the same. I love the simplicity of the words of Jesus: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). When we follow Jesus, He begins to bring about some changes in us and gives us a new purpose in life.
The challenge is that today we often have equated knowing about Jesus with following Jesus. We go to church and learn about following Jesus, but the word “follow” has action in its definition. To be a follower of Jesus – to be a disciple – means we are actively following after Jesus. That includes gathering on Sundays to worship, to learn, to encourage and to be encouraged. But following Jesus is an everyday commitment. What we learn about following Jesus must be translated into daily action. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” I want to challenge us to evaluate where we are in knowing Jesus and knowing about Jesus versus following Jesus. Knowing Jesus is important. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We must learn from him and know him, but that knowledge must lead to action.
Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you…” When those first disciples followed, they left their boats, their fishing, and their father immediately. And when they did that, Jesus began to do something. He began to make them into something new. He began to bring about change in their lives as they followed. Key phrase: “as they followed.” If they had never taken the first step of following, they would have never experienced the change that Jesus would make in their lives. That’s not salvation by works. That’s salvation accompanied by works. Our salvation – our faith – will always result in action. And when we act upon our faith in Jesus, he begins to change us. He begins to change our outlook in life. He changes our attitudes toward some things and some people. He may change our career. He begins to teach us to look at life with his eyes to see people and things the way God sees them. What change has Jesus brought about in your life? Are you willing to let him make some changes in you?
One critical change he makes in us is our purpose in life. He told the disciples he would make them fishers of men. Until that point, the focus of their careers had been fish. Now their focus would be people. Jesus has a way of changing our focus. As disciples, and more importantly, as disciple-makers (more on this topic later), Jesus wants us to see the people he has put in our lives through God’s eyes. He wants us to see these people as people he loves – people for whom Jesus lived and died and rose again. Because Jesus gave everything for us, his disciples learn to give everything away, to sacrifice, and to serve others to show them how much God truly loves them.
It’s called being disciples every day – in real life. This is what Jesus does in us as we decide to follow him. I want to invite you to go on this journey. I am praying for “ReaLife Disciples.” And I am excited to see where this ReaLife journey takes us!