“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV)
As a church, we are starting the year with a focus on making disciples: being people who have decided to follow Jesus. Sometimes during the week we can float back towards doing things our own way. We need to remind ourselves that we have decided to follow God’s perfect and pleasing ways. One of the outworkings of this is our availability to God.
Have you ever been into a shop where all signs indicate they are ‘open’ (lights on, doors open), only to find that the staff are not available but focusing on any other task besides helping you? We can be like that with God: distracted and ignoring Him. He wants to move us from reluctancy to a radical openness and dependence upon Him. Availability is our response to the call and invitation of God in our lives.
In the gospels we get multiple accounts of the journey of Simon-Peter, Andrew, James and John from fishermen to Jesus’ disciples and it is helpful to consider them all together. Jesus called these four to follow Him and they go, listening to Him preach (Mark 1:16-31). He then heals Simon-Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. They would have started to get a revelation that Jesus was no ordinary teacher. The men kept their jobs as fishermen to provide for their needs, which was normal of disciples in those days. In Luke 5:1-11, we see Jesus move them to a radical, total dependency upon Him.
He goes to where they are working on the shore and provides them with a miraculous catch. He demonstrates to them (and to us) that He is powerful enough to provide and His loving concern for people. Simon-Peter gets a powerful revelation, changing the way he addresses Jesus from an influencing “teacher” to “Lord” of everything in his life. God’s kindness to us leads us to repentance and choosing to follow Him.
Some of us can respond to God like the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-31): “You can have everything in my life, God except for [gossiping/forgiving that person].”. It is far better to be like Mary, saying “I am the Lord’s Servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Following Jesus is the BEST decision you could ever make, and it is a journey, not a one-time transformation. What marks us as followers of Jesus is copying Him in being a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), completely open to God. We draw near to Him and listen to the corrections He wants to make to our lives. This is a lot less painful than realizing later you have been going in the wrong direction. It is a daily decision to stay available to God.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- Have you ever become so preoccupied with something else that you left no room for God’s instructions? How did you overcome it?
- How can we this year make ourselves available to be disciples of Jesus?
- What is your next step of availability to the call of being a disciple of Jesus?
- The call of God is always about people. He uses where we are to reach out to others. The only thing we need to do is be available. Who are the people in your world that you can show God’s kindness to?