“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”— Matthew 4:18-22
It is astounding to think about the response of these men as they were called to become followers of Christ. Urgently, and giving no place to doubt or fear, they willingly and faithfully sacrificed their careers, lives with their families, and all else to follow Jesus. What compelled such a wholehearted and radical response from these men? And more applicable to us, have we responded in the same way to the calling of Christ?
Do our lives resemble the lives of the men mentioned in this passage, or are we content to wear the title “Christian” and really not follow where the Spirit leads us? These men left behind a trail of sacrifice and servitude because they saw their Master do the same. Our faith should provoke us to practice the same lifestyle.
I recently heard Christian musician Matthew West speaking on the radio, and he said, “God doesn’t call us because we are qualified; He only asks that we are willing.” It really isn’t us doing the works that we sometimes get credit for, but the Spirit of God works through us and we are simply His vessels. If we don’t surrender our lives to Him, we won’t be of any use in His kingdom.
There are several examples of people in the Scriptures who realized what it would cost for them to follow Christ and chose to follow a different path. One man was asked to sell all of his possessions and give to the poor, but he was very rich and chose not to. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Several men contemplated following Christ until He revealed that He had no home or possessions to speak of. (Luke 9:57-62) Apparently, one of the greatest hindrances to being fully devoted to Christ is materialism and holding too tightly to the things that we have been blessed with to share with others.
On the other hand, the Scriptures also tell of many who willingly sacrificed everything to follow Christ and showed by their actions that following Christ was their top priority. One example is Zaccheus, who was a tax collector. To my understanding, tax collectors were not very highly thought of at the time and often were known to skim a little off the top for personal gain. Zaccheus willingly offered to give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back anyone he had scammed fourfold. This convinced Christ that Zaccheus’ conversion was genuine.
Christ said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)
Our relationship with Christ is to be the relationship that we treasure above all, and we are supposed to offer our lives as a living sacrifice to Him. We must be willing to lay down our lives for the one who willingly laid down His life for us. If we are not, are we really responding to the call of Christ?
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.'”— James 2:14-18
How will we respond to Christ’s offer to follow Him? Will we lay our lives down before Him as a living sacrifice? Will we give Him a little of our heart to appease our consciences but ultimately live how we want? Will we completely ignore His love and choose to live in rebellion? Let us all remember the cost Christ paid for our redemption as we choose our path in life.