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Gone Fishin' - Second Sunday of Matthew

I hate mornings.

I mean I love the quiet, I love coffee, and I love breakfast (read: bacon) so you’d think the morning would actually be a wonderful time for me. And it is. It’s just the getting out of bed thing that really gets me down because I love being comfortable.

I mean, I love it. If it were up to me, I’d spend all my money on things that make my life easier and more comfortable.

And now it’s possible.

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be able to check my e-mail on a cell phone, watch television without commercials, and buy a book, a blender, and a barbecue on the same day without leaving my house (or even my chair), I would have shaken your hand and asked you to take me to this brave new world.

That brave new world is here. It’s comfortable. It’s convenient. And it’s all for me.

A world of innumerable possibilities and technologies exists at my fingertips, literally; a world that promise to make my life easier. And the best part is that when these things go out of style or start to break down (or I just get bored of them), new versions will be released, which I can have sent straight to my house. With free next day shipping.

I love getting what I want as soon as I want it.

But while comfort is certainly enjoyable and pretty synonymous with the so-called “good life,” it be at odds with a life informed by the good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In fact, I sometimes fear that my love for comfort actually gets directly in the way of following Christ. My mornings are mostly about grumpily waking up and stumbling into the kitchen for my caffeine fix. Rarely does my alarm clock act as a call to prayer. In fact, prayer’s usually the last thing on my mind when I hear the alarm.

I can’t count the number of days I have “tried to get up a little early” so I would “have time to pray.” Even more embarrassing is the number of times I’ve hit the snooze alarm just to get 9 more minutes of sleep (And why?! No good sleep happens in 9 minutes!). At this point, I’m scoring about four snooze buttons for every attempt at early rising (4:1 for you math peeps).

Sadly, my love for comfort gets in my way of following Christ. Yet it seems clear that the mission to which Christ calls us demands that we step out of our comfort and trust Him in our discomfort.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Christ calls four of His disciples, two pairs of brothers – Peter and Andrew, James and John. They are fishermen, and they are out on their boats, doing what they have done day-in, day-out for years.

But then Christ shows up, right there in the middle of a work day, and He tells them they need to follow Him, that He will make them “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). The Scriptures say that both sets of brothers “immediately…left their nets and followed [Christ].” James and John, we are told, even left their own father behind (Matt. 4:22).

These brothers leave everything they have known to follow Christ on some mission they don’t yet understand. They quit their jobs. They leave their families.

They leave everything that is comfortable behind.

Following Christ is a daring, costly adventure. It was for the apostles, and it is for us today. We deceive ourselves if we think differently, for even Christ Himself expresses the cost of discipleship clearly: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

Self-denial and crosses are rarely comfortable.

The cost of following Christ is high, yet thousands and thousands of people have bravely gone to their deaths rather than betray their Lord, even while glorifying Christ and confessing all that He has done for them.

While there has never been a shortage of people willing to die for Christ, there has also yet to be a shortage of those eager to persecute His followers. It is clear that following Christ is costly. And we need to be prepared.

When Ernest Shackleton set out to cross Antarctica, his recruitment for the journey was simple and direct:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.[1]_

Five hundred people responded to this ad because we all desire to be a part of something worth dying for. We want a reason to get out of our comfy beds in the morning, and today, Christ is inviting us into a hazardous journey.

His invitation is to leave what we’ve always been (fishermen) and to become who we are in Him (fishers of men). He invites us to leave everything we have known and follow Him, trusting that wherever He leads, it will be good, even if it isn’t safe.

Even if it isn’t comfortable.

But are we prepared? Where is Christ meeting us? What is Christ asking us to leave behind? What are we clinging to?

Careers? Reputations? Belongings? Feelings? Addictions?

Christ interrupted the brothers in the middle of work day; where is He meeting us when it isn’t “convenient?” And are we ready to hear His recruitment?

Are we ready to follow Christ to certain death?

By sacrificing our desires, our plans, and our identities, we bear witness to life’s power over death. We allow ourselves to be wrapped up in the mystery of salvation that God is unfolding even now, which leaves ourselves completely in His hands, vulnerable and exposed.

And that’s uncomfortable.

Do you think it’s worth it?

 

[1] Margo Morrell and Stephanie Capparell, Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer (New York: Penguin, 2002), p. 55, as quoted by Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults: Life-Giving Rhythms for Spiritual Transformation (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012), p. 206.

Photo Credits:

Lazy: Joe Athialy via Compfight cc

Fishing Boat: calafellvalo via Compfight cc

Antarctica: oHg5SJYRHA0 via Compfight cc

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and is working toward a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.

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