Have you ever wondered what it’s like for God to talk to someone? What would he say? What is God interested in talking about? Certainly not the weather, or who won the game, or what was on TV last night…but what?
Five men found out.
The first was a nomad named Abram (later renamed Abraham).
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3
About two thousand years later, God spoke to four simple fishermen.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (who is 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. And 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
There are several parallels in these two encounters.
1. God offered a relationship. In Abram’s day, people worshipped many gods because they wanted protection, money and a good life. It was a risk to follow just one. But the Lord offered Abram a deal: leave home and I’ll be the one God who provides for all your needs. Jesus also offered the fishermen a relationship: be my follower and I’ll transform your life.
2. God called them out of their comfort zone. We all have things and people we rely on. In those days, it was your family. They were your bodyguard, employer, pension, and retirement. To leave them was insanity. What if Jesus told us to quit our jobs and follow him? (If you hate your job, that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea…until your bills come due.)
3. God promised to do something with them that was impossible for them to do on their own. Surviving in a new, unknown country was next to impossible without God’s protection. But God took it one step further–he promised to make that one man into a huge nation that changes the world. That’s impossible without divine help. Jesus promised to change these humble fishermen into leaders–spiritual giants who could lead others to God. Sports recruiters pick the best and brightest and hope their team wins. God is so powerful he can take anyone (even fishermen) and revolutionize their life.
4. God expected his plan to take preeminence over belonging to their family. All five men had to risk losing the respect, love and protection of their families. Imagine how disappointed some of their relatives must have felt. But God wants us to obey his voice even if it means hurting some feelings.
5. God wanted to use them to change the world. Transforming these men was part of a bigger picture. God promised to do something in them so that he could do something through them. In Abram’s case, it was blessing every family on earth. The fishermen exchanged their natural profession for a spiritual calling–bringing people into Jesus’ kingdom.
6. God gave a choice. The offer came: “Leave…” “Follow me…” Then each person had a decision to make. The promises were wonderful–a relationship with God, protection, transformation, a special calling. But there were risks as well–leaving the known for the unknown, upsetting relatives and friends, giving up a comfortable way of life.
We know what those men chose. But for us, the offer still stands. What will we do?