This is the second post in a series on the Call of Christ.
The story of Peter begins with Luke’s account of Jesus calling Peter (along with Andrew, James and John) to follow Him in Luke 5.1-11.
Jesus is teaching a large crowd of people along the Sea of Galilee and the crowd is pressing against Him so much that He decides to get into a boat—Peter’s boat—and push out a little bit from land so He can better teach the people.
After He finishes His teaching, Jesus tells Peter to go out into the deep water and let his nets down for a catch. Peter politely tries to tell Jesus that his isn’t a good idea—he and his partners had been fishing all night and had caught nothing, but as a courtesy to Jesus they’ll do what He says.
But when Peter does what Jesus says, something amazing happens: they catch so many fish that the nets begin to break, and Peter has to call over the boat of James and John to help them. And they catch so many fish that both boats begin to sink!
And Peter, the experienced fisherman, realizes that something isn’t right. What has just happened isn’t normal, and he falls down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
But Jesus responds, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” And when they bring their boats back to land, they immediately leave everything behind and follow Him.
The call to follow Jesus Christ is a call to leave some things behind. When Peter sees the miraculous catch of fish, he immediately realizes that there is something special about Jesus. He doesn’t fully understand who He is, but he knows that He is holy and special, and he falls down at His feet saying, “Go away! I’m a sinner and not worthy to be in your presence!”
Peter rightly understood that he couldn’t remain the way he was and follow Jesus. But Jesus invites him along anyway and when they get back to the shore, it says that Peter and the others left everything behind and followed Jesus.
That’s important for us to understand—in order for us to follow Jesus, it means that we have to be willing to leave some things behind. Habits, attitudes, actions, relationships which are unholy and don’t glorify God; these things must left behind if we are to follow Jesus faithfully.
But Jesus doesn’t just call us away from something; He calls us to something. I think this is a big problem for us—too often, when we talk about what it means to be a Christian, we define it by what Christians are not to do instead of focusing on the what we are called to do! And when we do that, we dumb down the Call of Christ.
See, Jesus hasn’t called us just to be good moral people who don’t cuss, or steal, or do drugs—He has called us to join in His mission of saving the world! Jesus came to seek and save the lost and He has extended that mission to His followers. He told Peter that from now on He would be fishing for men, and that’s our task as well!
Being good moral people isn’t the end goal of following Jesus—it’s the natural by-product that occurs when we follow Him in the mission of re-claiming the world for the Kingdom of God.
That was Peter’s mission, and it’s ours as well. As we seek to live in response to the Call of Christ, let us remember that Jesus doesn’t just call us away from darkness; He calls us to reach out and bring men and women to the light of His Kingdom.
The Call of Christ is much greater than an avoidance of a few unsavory sins; it is a call to participate in God’s grand mission to reconcile the world to Himself!
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