Matthew Chapter 4 is a chapter that most Christians are familiar with. This is the chapter in which Jesus calls Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to be His disciples. The verse that most of us are familiar with in this chapter is verse 19, in which Jesus says, “Come follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” What came to my attention recently while reading this chapter is what Jesus does not say. Jesus does not say, “Come follow me and I will give you all the riches you ever dreamed of.” He also does not say, “Come follow me, and I will make sure you always feel comfortable and secure.” Jesus says, “I will send you to fish for people.” Then the word says, “At once, they left their nets and followed Him.”
Peter and Andrew “AT ONCE”, left their comfort, their livelihood, their worldly lives right there on the ground and followed Jesus in order to take up His cause. In the same way that Jesus asked these two disciples to forego their own cause of seeking after their own worldly treasures to take up His cause and fish for people, He calls each one of us to deny ourselves of our own selfish wants and desires to follow Him and take up His cause.
I am not saying that God does not want to bless us and prosper us. That would be contradictory to His word (see Jeremiah 29:11). What I am saying is that our hearts should not be seeking after worldly blessings, they should be seeking after His kingdom and His righteousness. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all those things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33).
This concept right here is why the world has a difficult time differentiating Christians from itself, because too many Christians are chasing after the same things as the world. Many people who wear the label of Christian are seeking worldly wealth, comfort and acceptance rather than the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. They are simply using God as means of obtaining their own wants and desires. Once again, I am not saying that these are all bad things, but when they are exalted in our hearts above God our influence over others becomes limited. We no longer stand apart, and our light does not shine as brightly.
This is not meant to be condemning. We are all guilty of this in one form or another. I know I have been guilty of exalting worldly things above God in the past, and it will probably happen again in the future. However, it’s those times when, by the grace of God, we are able to push aside our own selfish desires in order to uphold God’s will that our light shines the brightest. Those are the times when the world looks at followers of Jesus Christ and says, “There is something different going on there.” That love is the bait that attracts people. That unexplainable, unconditional, selfless act of love attracts people to God in the same way that bait attracts fish to a net.
As Christians, our goal is to be so full of the love of Christ that His love overflows from us and pours out onto others in a tangible way. They should “see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven”(Matthew 5:16). This is why Jesus calls us to love others as he has loved us, because that kind of love transforms the world around us and draws people to God.
As followers of Christ, we are called to step out for God. This looks different for every individual, but it is scary no matter what that next step is. With each step we give up a little more control of our circumstances. We need to put down the nets that we are comfortable with that we have used to catch fish, and pick up the nets that Jesus is handing us to use to fish for people. These nets are foreign to us. We are not familiar with them, and we may be called to use them in places that we have never been before. But we serve a loving God who will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6), who “will be with us to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and who “has plans to prosper us and not to harm us” (Jeremiah 29:11).
What is that thing in your life that God is asking you to put aside? What net is He asking you drop so that you can pick up His net of unconditional love and start fishing for people?