In a recent poll, nearly 80% of Americans reported that they identify as Christian. That is a lot of people! Yet in the United States, we still struggle with poverty and injustice. Imagine what would happen if all of the people, myself included, who identify as Christian came together to work toward Jesus’ vision of how the world should be. In the Gospel, Jesus does not call us to be Christian. He does not urge us to go to church or fill our homes with crosses to identify our religious affiliation. He calls us only by saying, “Follow me.” It is a simple request, but not an easy one. When pushed, he expands the call by telling us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to give all our riches to the poor. We are quick to call ourselves Christian and fill our time becoming a good Christian. We can be so busy being Christian that we forget to follow Jesus. Jesus asks that we advocate for the poor, the widows and the orphans. To put down our nets and follow. People in Jesus’ circle had a difficult time following him, as we still do today. Don Evert articulates it well in Jesus with Dirty Feet:
Jesus was not a Christian.
He never asked anyone to become Christian,
never built a steepled building,
never drew up a theological treatise,
never took an offering,
never wore religious garments,
never incorporated for tax purposes.
He simply called people to follow him.
That, despite its simplicity, is it.
He called people to follow him…
It is never more
than Jesus’ call: “Follow me”
and a response: dropping familiar nets
and following, in faith
this sandaled Jewish man.
It is never more than that.
Two thousand years of words can do nothing
to the simple, basic reality of Christianity:
Those first steps
taken by two brothers.
Peter and Andrew’s theology
was as pure as it gets:
Jesus said, “Follow me.” And we did.
As Don Evert points out, following Jesus starts with putting down the net and taking one single step. Jesus’ call is a difficult one. Advocating for those most vulnerable around us can get overwhelming. Today I will try to start by putting down my net and taking one step. Instead of putting my focus on being Christian, I will focus my energy on the life of Jesus who is calling to me to follow.
How do you think it felt for Andrew and Peter to put down their nets and follow Jesus?
What net do you hold onto?
What does it looks like in your life today to follow Jesus?
When you look around, how do you see people focused on being Christian instead of focused on following Jesus?