Sunday, October 09, 2005

"We have left everything to follow you"

Peter said to Jesus, "We have left everything to follow you." (Mark 10:28)

Followers of Christ through the ages have felt that tug at our hearts, have felt that call. We follow -- but many of us have longed to follow more, even to own nothing if that were asked of us. Through the ages, some followers of Christ have even set that as their goal: to own nothing in this world. And many of us have followed, but have been held back by other concerns.

When we feel the call tug at us, why is it we do not fully follow the call to do all we wish to give in service? Have we imagined that we must become beggars who cannot financially support ourselves and our families in order to do God's work?

We read that one of the times Jesus met his disciples after he was raised from the dead, he found them out in their boat, fishing with their nets, having caught nothing all night. But hadn't they "left everything" to follow Jesus? Where did the boat and net come from? These were fishers, and here they still were with boats and nets after they "left everything." They may have left the boat behind while they were on land. But they had traveled often by boat during Jesus' ministry, and the boat was large enough to hold a good number of people.

Did they really leave behind their boats and nets behind to follow Jesus? On the one hand: sure they did. Fishermen don't spend their days travelling town to town and healing people by the authority Christ has granted them, or baptizing, or teaching about God's goodness, love and forgiveness. Neither would fishermen take a boat into town with them to announce the coming kingdom of God. But they still had the boats and the nets.

One big change in their lives, when they followed Jesus, was that they went from being fishermen who followed God on the side, to followers of God who fished on the side. The focus of their life shifted. The meaning of their life changed. Earning a living wasn't their highest priority any more. When they said "we have left everything to follow you," they still had a way to earn their keep, make a living, get a meal, and move from place to place. But that was no longer what they lived for. They no longer organized their lives around that kind of work. They organized their lives around God's work.

We still feel Jesus' call to work with him in this world. The time has come for us to figure out how to do that here, now, in our time and place, in our generation. We feel the pull to complete the change that has begun in us: the change from being workers who are Christians to being followers of Christ who are workers. We need to find out how to make sure Christ's work is done. We know what he wants us to do. Every time we read certain passages of Scripture, we feel his call ringing through us, and our minds see clearly what we should be doing. It's time to find a way to do it. "Follow me." Can we turn away from worldly concerns long enough to do the task set before us? Enough of the misperceptions about whether we're allowed to own property; that was never the point. The point is what we live for, what drives our days, whether we get done the service that we know we have been called to perform.

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