ISSUES OF FAITH: If you hear the call of Jesus, follow him

“PASSING ALONGSIDE THE Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:16-20 ESV).

“Follow me.” Jesus said it often.

A few fishermen, a tax collector, a doubter and a boaster, a rebellious zealot, a couple of momma’s boys and even a traitor.

They followed him. They left everything behind them and followed him. Together.

We get divinely-inspired snippets of this eclectic group’s journey together.

We get to eavesdrop on some of their conversations.

We walk with them. We sail with them. We share a few meals together. We learn with them.

Sometimes we watch them change; sometimes we wonder why they didn’t.

We feel their shame and sorrow; we feel their joy.

Together. With Jesus.

Shortly after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the Holy Spirit empowered this close-knit group and dispersed them.

They were sent to the ends of the Earth to invite new Jesus followers, who would form new eclectic groups — the church, the body of Christ.

And this cycle continues, and will continue until Jesus comes again.

I’m struck by the diversity. I see it today.

Every Sunday morning, and often throughout the week, I see men and women, boys and girls, young and old, mechanics and accountants, introverts and extroverts, retired and just plain tired, gathering together.

We grow together. We worship together. We pray together. Sometimes we eat meals together.

Together, we share joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, life and death.

Together, we follow Jesus, and we are being transformed to become more him.

Together. As diverse as we are, we shared the commonality of sin. All of us. And because of this, we were doomed.

Burdened with guilt, powerless to change and headed for hell.

But one by one, we heard his compelling invitation, Jesus’ inviting command: “Follow me.” And one by one we did.

Individually we recognized our sin and received God’s amazing grace.

We were saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and his resurrection has given us new life, abundant life, eternal life.

Now, we gather together and follow together. Eclectic, but united. Diverse, but one in Christ.

We still have issues. Our imperfections aren’t hard to see or hear.

But together we are being transformed to become more like Jesus, and to follow him.

We gather in Jesus’ name, but we also scatter in Jesus’ name. The cycle continues. The invitation persists.

Jesus still calls out, “Follow me.”

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).

Do you hear Jesus calling you?

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is jbc@joycebiblechurch.org.

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