by David Sisler

A young lieutenant had been entrusted with a difficult and important assignment and had failed miserably. To everyone’s surprise, including the lieutenant’s, the unit’s commanding officer gave him another task. The new task was equal in danger to the lieutenant and equal in importance to the regiment as the first assignment.

This time he came through with such heroism that he was decorated for his service. When the chaplain tried to congratulate him, the young officer said, “What else could I do? I failed the man, and he went on trusting me.”

Peter and Andrew were professional fishermen. Fishermen, even dedicated, recreational fishermen, spend their lives doing one of two things – fishing, or getting ready to fish. Peter and Andrew were getting ready. They were involved in the never-ending task of mending their nets when Jesus walked up to them and said, “Follow me and I will make you fishermen for men.”

A few minutes later, the trio passed another pair of fishermen, James and John. They were in their boat with their father, preparing their nets for a night of fishing. Jesus told James and John to come with him. They left their father and their boat and followed Him.

The call to follow Jesus is a personal call. The first disciples, those chosen to be his inner circle, those whom he would pour his life into for more than three years, came one at a time, or at the most, two.

Jesus knew each man, knew his name, knew where to find him, knew his occupation and his relationships. For that reason, his approach varied.

Some Jesus sought out, some came to him, others were brought by someone else, a few he turned away. But always it was an individual invitation to individual loyalty. No matter how much others might have shared in the experience, it was always one-on-one. Even when he called the brothers, Jesus addressed them personally.

One mistake in following Jesus today, or in calling others to follow him, is that we forget the individual approach. We like the safety of a crowd. It is easy to get lost in the numbers. But even if it is a massive evangelistic campaign, and hundreds come forward, each person comes forward by himself and for himself.

It is always a personal call to follow Jesus, never to join a church or some other organization. The initial call is never to accept a creed or a statement of faith. The call is to accept the claims of Jesus Christ. Those claims may not be totally understood at the moment of faith, but then who totally understands his or her own life? The call is simply to follow.

It would be foolish to follow someone you could not trust. You must trust Jesus because his call is to a lifetime of following.

It would be foolish to follow someone with whom you could not have fellowship. You do not walk alone when you follow Jesus. Every step of the way he walks with you and with each passing day he asks you to learn more and to trust more.

It would be foolish to follow someone you could not imitate. If you are not becoming more like Jesus every day, it may be because you have stopped following him. You need to look – is that Jesus beside of you, or is it someone else?

Your adventure with Jesus is unique. He calls you to a personal devotion, to a private obedience. The circumstances under which you follow him can never be duplicated by anyone else. Simon Peter once forgot that and asked about another man’s service. Jesus replied, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me!”

Other paths will seem attractive, other ways may offer appeal, other directions may call for your loyalty, but his call never changes. The question he asked of Simon Peter so long ago, he still asks, “Lovest thou me?” What is your answer?


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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