I often wonder about the twelve disciples and their journey. I try to imagine how they might have felt when Jesus asked them to leave everything behind (family, possessions, comfort, the known, etc.) to follow Him. What a scary time that must have been and yet how faithful those disciples were to follow him having no idea what this new life might be like. I can’t imagine that the decision to leave all behind was an easy decision. Yet, it was the decision their faith called them to make. They stepped out in faith.
Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. Matthew 4:19-20 (MSG)
Can you imagine how these disciples must have felt? Can you imagine the sacrifice it must have taken for them to drop everything (homes, family, friends, jobs, possessions) and follow Jesus? As followers of Jesus, we are not always called to take the easiest path or the path of least resistant. Instead, we are called to be faithful – to leave all behind – and follow Jesus. We as brothers and sisters in Christ today are in the same sort of season of leaving behind what was known and comfortable for a new future to follow Christ. What we have known, what we have always done, and what feels comfortable may need to be left behind to follow Jesus. And Jesus charged us with the Great Commission:
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (MSG)
As leaders of faith communities, we may find ourselves in what might feel like the wilderness. A time where we are all working really, really hard, but ministry fruitfulness is likely much more difficult than ever before to produce and harvest. We are in a time where our tried and true practices are no longer working. We find ourselves in a time where we are called upon to be more creative, innovative, and drop all we have known to follow Jesus. We find ourselves in a situation much like the disciples of sacrificing for the sake of following Jesus. We find ourselves in a time that the really tough decisions are not necessarily the easy or the popular decisions, but yet they are discerned as the faithful decisions that allow us to follow Jesus.
Faithful servants, take heart. The promised land is ahead.