My grades and my Bible study contradicted each other today. See, I just finished my third semester of Seminary last week and my final grades are in. I made a 98% in my Contemporary Evangelism course. To be quite honest, this is about par for the course for me. My grades are always strong. However, as I reflected on my semester, I realized that my lifestyle did not match my academics. What would my life look like if I scored a 98% in evangelism in my life? How many people would I get to see come to Christ if I obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my heart to share the Gospel? What would my city look like if 98% of the times I met a stranger, spoke to a waiter, clerk, barista or cashier, or received a phone call I shared the good news that Jesus came to save us from ourselves? Would I be hated? By some. Would I be loved? By some. Would I be feared? Probably by many. Would I be respected? Probably by many. Would I receive a reward for my obedience in heaven and would Jesus be proud of my efforts? Yes, I believe so. Would Jesus’ fame and renown be spread throughout my city? Yes.
It didn’t get much better this morning, as my Bible reading plan had me in Matthew chapter 4. In this chapter, Jesus defeats temptation by quoting Scripture. Then, he launches his public ministry, proclaiming not some new, innovative message, but the same Gospel that John the Baptist had preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Verse 16 describes this most monumental moment in history by saying, “The people in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
After heaven’s proclamation that the kingdom had come, Jesus began to call his disciples. He began by promising to make Peter and Andrew “fishers of men”. The Bible says that they “immediately” left their job, family, and well-being as they knew it to follow Christ on his mission to save the world from sin. Later in the chapter, James and John left the same things to follow Christ in the same manner. This left me wondering about my obedience.
Jesus commanded us all to be “fishers of men” in the Great Commission. We are called to go into the nations, spreading Jesus’ name everywhere, making disciples and baptizing them along the way, preparing them to make more disciples. He even promised in Acts 1:8 that the Holy Spirit would come (which it did in the very next chapter) and make sure we have all the power we will need to accomplish this mission. But have we?
I know that I, unlike these first four disciples, am often left on the beach, clutching my nets. I often choose my financial well-being, the joy of my family, and the safety of a comfortable job and lifestyle over the mission of Christ. It goes further. I often choose to be a social standout rather than a bold proclaimer of God’s grace. I often would rather be silent, allowing friends and neighbors to go on without the Gospel, than to be that weird guy who never shuts up about his religion. But that’s the point: I do not have a religion. I have a Savior. Religion says that if I just follow all the rules, I can make God love me. Jesus says, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). Jesus heals the sick and the needy just as they are. Jesus says that because he first loved us, we will love him back. Jesus loves us even though we can’t follow all the rules. He fulfilled the rules for us. He came to save, to bring light to this dark world and into our dark hearts. And I am to be the messenger that spreads that unfathomable, wonderful, excellent news with all that I know, love, and come to meet.
Let’s shoot to be fishers of men, to proclaim the Gospel for Jesus’ glory, not just for good grades.
Grace and peace.