As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Mark 1: 16-19
We don’t know what there was about Jesus that led Simon, Andrew, then immediately following those two came James, John, and others who left their homes and families to follow Jesus. There was something so remarkably compelling about Jesus that these and others followed Jesus into an uncertain future. They followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead them.
As far as I can determine, the twelve persons Jesus called to be his companions were ordinary men. There is no indication that Jesus did any background checks to determine their IQ levels, financial judgment, professional skills, or religious education. He picked people perhaps like you and me. Besides, his disciples were anything but perfect. They often misunderstood him. They often hesitated to follow him and sometimes disagreed with him. Judas betrayed him and Peter denied him. But these were the persons who continued Jesus’ work on earth after he left, just ordinary people, like you and me. They were called and they immediately followed him.
Also, Jesus’ first disciples were “northerners,” from the northern province of Galilee. The capital of Israel was Jerusalem in the former southern kingdom, the religious center where the temple was. It is no wonder that Jesus was greeted with such skepticism when he traveled to Jerusalem from his home in the northlands of Galilee with his Galilean friends. The religious leaders in Jerusalem considered Jesus an “outsider” since he was from the north, Nazareth.
Every one of these disciples were chosen and called personally by Jesus, and we believe that God calls each one of us personally. God also calls us into the fields and careers of our lives and in those environments, we are called to live out our call to follow Jesus. The fact is that God’s call is not limited to clergy. God calls people to be pastors and church workers, but God’s call is not limited to clergy. God calls every single one of us into a work for the Kingdom of God that is needed for our world.
I was visiting with two of our youth and young adult workers in our congregation this weekend. They are both university students, one in a pre-med preparation course of study and the other in aeronautical science preparing to work in the space industry. As they talked about their hopes and dreams of the future I listened to dreamers who had goals for their lives and woven into their goals were their hopes, dreams, and prayers, their call from God for serving God in medicine and in space sciences. As we each live our lives directed toward some profession God has called us to, we have many amazing opportunities to fish for people in that professional arena of calling. Like those first disciples, we each have to seek God’s leadership in learning how to use the skills we are learning to use in fishing for people.
- What profession are you in and how are you called to fish for people in your work?
- Can you write down some of the ways God’s call is lived out in your profession?
- Do you pray for God’s leadership as you perform the tasks of your professional work?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.