by Rob Tims
What is something that you do really well? Not necessarily “America’s Got Talent” well, but something you can do that not many other people who know you can do nearly as well. Put another way, what’s the one thing you do that, when you do it, you know it touches lives? And how often do you do it?
Most of us spend the majority of our lives doing normal, everyday kinds of things. But God has always used ordinary people to do extraordinary things. This is most evident in Matthew 4:18-22. In calling disciples, Jesus didn’t visit the best schools or most prestigious families; He instead went to the shore and found common, everyday fishermen. That’s incredibly encouraging for normal people like us, because it means that when ordinary people are willing to follow Jesus, God will use them to do extraordinary things.
Take a look at the passage.
18 As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 “Follow me,” he told them, “and I will make you fish for[i]people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Follow me.” But before we can follow, we must determine who we are following, which Matthew disclosed over the first four chapters of his gospel account. Jesus is in the line of the king (Son of David) and the promise of God (Son of Abraham). Jesus is the sovereign Lord of the universe and the Savior of mankind. When we truly grasp who Jesus is, it is remarkably clear that a God like this is clearly and absolutely worthy of far more than casual association.
To follow Jesus means to live with radical abandonment. Peter, Andrew, James, and John immediately left their careers, their possessions, and their families to follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus we cannot always be sure where we’re going, but we always know who we are with. Jesus is worthy of our absolute devotion. The greatest cause we can give our lives to is His.
The men in these verses were ordinary, rural, uneducated fishermen from a small town, yet Jesus chose these four men to help accomplish His mission. They had no set of impressive skills or qualifications, but Jesus called them and they answered. In the first century, followers typically approached a rabbi and requested to follow him, but Jesus inverted that model. He chose His disciples. Likewise, God doesn’t need any of us to accomplish His mission, but He chose to involve us in His work.
The call to be a fisher of men is not a suggestion for a limited few, but the whole mission of the kingdom of God. It’s the one thing we know we can do that touches lives. Every disciple of Jesus Christ is commanded to make disciples of Jesus Christ. For Peter, Andrew, James, and John, urgent obedience to this call meant leaving their family and livelihood. While Jesus does not call all people to leave loved ones and careers behind, He does call each of us to make His mission the center of our lives.
So, how can you tweak your daily habits and routine in order to truly follow Jesus and make room to fish for men? Maybe it’s merely a change of attitude, or maybe it’s something more substantial. Regardless, the call of Jesus forces us to consider if we are truly doing that which life demands in a way that shares Jesus and touches the lives of those we do life with every day.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.