The Gospels – Follow Me
“Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
The Christian message in its simplest form is this, follow Jesus. This choice is the catalyst for discovering life as God designed it, the fullest, most meaningful, abundant and adventurous life possible.
When you choose to follow Jesus you are choosing the narrow path, the road less traveled, the sometimes steep and dangerous trail of fullness of life and peace with God.
For the person, young or old, who observes the life of Christ and becomes persuaded that He is the Son of God, Savior of the world, Messiah and Lord, and, makes the personal choice to follow Him, several things happen.
1 – You die to yourself.
The "self" or the "flesh" is the primary opponent of the Christian life. It is the part of each of us that insists on its own way, which is contrary to following Jesus where we are intentionally trying to follow His path, not our own.
The apostle Paul teaches that we have literally died to the fleshly, sinful control of our lives.
"We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him." Romans 6:6-8 (see chapter).
This is the reality that we must live out. Our old selves died with Christ on the cross, sin and selfishness no longer have control over us. We are no longer slaves to old habits, emotions, or any progress-limiting sins of our past. We are new creations in Christ!
But while this is a past reality it is also one we must control. The flesh, though dead, will always seek to regain control over our lives through lazy, self-centered choices. That's why the apostle Paul also wrote that he "died daily." That is, the temptations of the flesh will almost constantly need to be put down. One old monk said that he expected the very last conscious thought he would have before his last breath would be some temptation or another.
2 – You become others-focused.
He told the disciples that their focus would change from fish to people. Following Jesus means going where He goes, and He is always headed towards people who need Him. Even though He was the Son of God and King of Kings, He didn't expect to be served, instead, He came to serve, to seek and to save those who were lost – see Mark 10:45. He was, and is, continuously others-focused. When you follow Jesus your attention is no longer on yourself and your fish, that is, well-being, accumulation of goods, vocation, self, happiness, etc.
This is a different message from many modern churches that seem to be all about appealing to that part of our life that died with Christ. Worldly success, riches, death-defying health, and comfort. You, you, you – you're the center of the message. Not if you're a follower of Christ. If you are following Him you are headed toward others. His hands and feet, His heart, home, and wallet – regular people like us, following Jesus into needy lives and giving all we can.
3 – You become the best version of yourself.
The amazing thing is that Jesus takes the basic "wiring" of our lives and turns us into the best versions of ourselves. Peter and Andrew were "Casting nets" when Jesus called them. Jesus took this skill and made them evangelists. James and John were mending nets, equipping the nets for the work of catching fish. Mending, here, is the same word used in Ephesians for the work of the pastors and teachers of the church that "equip" the saints for the work of the ministry. And James and John became equippers, teachers of the Good News.
He will do the same with you, dear one. If you are "wired" with a creative spark, Jesus will use that to reach others. If you are a task-oriented person, He will use you to administrate or organize. In following Jesus you will become the best version of yourself possible.
4 – Jesus completes the process in your life.
Jesus takes the responsibility to accomplish in and through you what He has promised. Notice, He says, "Follow me, and I will make you…" He will do it. Our role is to die to ourselves daily and live out of that reality, denying ourselves, simply following Him, and He will complete His work in us.
No pressure, His grace will overflow from your life and people will be served, healed, clothed, fed, sheltered, and a million other things, because you are not following your own path, you are following Jesus.