Third Sunday after Epiphany Lectionary Reflection
January 25, 2014
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18
Is responding to Jesus’ call to discipleship a stewardship issue? More specifically, does it make a difference how we respond to Jesus’ call? We’ve heard the :fish for people” lesson; it’s not a new story. Simon, Andrew, James, and John heard the call and went–immediately. I don’t know about you, but that “immediately” word causes me more than a little discomfort.
Would dropping everything to follow Jesus really be good stewardship in the 21st century? Would it be wise or prudent to walk away from job, family, 401K, and other forms of security to take such a great risk? After all, we know how Jesus’ short ministry ended, and even proof of the resurrection couldn’t shake the fear and confusion and doubt out of some of his closest confidants who had left it all behind.
However, that fear and doubt is not the end of the story. We know that. We know how the fledgling church, emboldened and equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit, facilitated a movement that persists to this day. Sure, we don’t know the details of how they responded to the call of the gospel, but what we know is that they made it work. No doubt sacrifice was involved; for some Christians this meant losing family, friends, livelihood, or even life. The fact remains they did it. They heard the call, and they responded, becoming fishers for people. Rich, poor, insider, outsider, women, men, Jew, Gentile all contributed to the spread of the gospel and to the marks of discipleship for which the early church was known: prayer and worship, study, radical hospitality and care of neighbor, community and relationship, and extreme generosity. That’s stewardship of everything, my friends!
The marks of discipleship still need to be taught and practiced today. How else can 21st century disciples be fully equipped to discern God’s will and the Spirit’s gentle (and not so gentle) nudgings? How else can we manage the mechanics, if you will, of what it means to sacrifice and give up what needs to be left behind in order to follow Jesus? No one is asking that we check our brains and common sense at the door, but God does expect a full commitment, holding nothing back that will hinder us from following Jesus, from loving God with all our heart, mind, and being, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
That is a tall order. It is a radical commitment. In a world of individualism, self-gratification, consumerism, and fear of never having enough, this can be a downright scary proposition. Yet, once Jesus gets a hold on your life, your heart, your mind, and your soul, you will be willing to drop everything that it takes to follow him.
Finally, lest this call seem too heavy to bear, take comfort in this fact: Jesus did not call one person. He called a dozen close disciples, and they in turn called and equipped others. We do not journey alone. Together in community we are stronger–and the “fishing” is better, too.
Photos: Maria Elena, Britt Selvitelle, and Yasin Hassan, Creative Commons