“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Those of us who are familiar with the ministry of Jesus can take for granted the fact that he called his disciples. But Jesus’ initiative would have surprised people in his culture, and not just those whom he called to follow him. Religious teachers in the time of Jesus didn’t recruit their own students. Rather, they received those who sought them out and asked to become followers. Jesus, by contrast, chose the ones whom he wanted to be his disciples.
Are we saying that we are not in charge of our own faith? Our own destiny? Actually, yes, we are saying that. Or, rather, that’s what Jesus is saying.
Though we tend to think that being a Christian involves our decision to put our faith in Jesus – and, indeed, it does, in a way – from another perspective, we belong to Jesus because he sought us out, much as he did with his first followers. We are Christians because God reached out to us in love and grace, helping us to respond in faith and obedience. We are Christians because the Spirit of God stirred in our hearts when we heard the good news of God’s love in Christ.
Given our cultural tendency to think of religion as something we choose according to our own preferences, the notion that God called us first might be a little surprising, even off-putting. Are we saying that we are not in charge of our own faith? Our own destiny? Actually, yes, we are saying that. Or, rather, that’s what Jesus is saying. Remember the core of his proclamation is that the kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God . . . the sovereignty of God stands at the center of Jesus’ teaching. Therefore, it makes sense that we are followers of Jesus, first and foremost, because of God’s initiative, God’s call.
Our response matters, of course. But the more we remember the call of Jesus, the more we will be prepared to follow him wherever he leads. Moreover, we will live with gratitude, knowing that our faith and life in Christ are responses to God’s grace, God’s desire to be in relationship with us.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you think of your faith as something that begins with God? Or with you?
In what ways have you experienced the call of Jesus in your life?
Gracious God, thank you for calling us to yourself. Thank you for initiating on our behalf. Thank you for preparing us to receive the good news in faith. Thank you for being the King, not just of the universe, but over us as well. May we live in faithful, obedient response to your call, in every part of life. Amen.