Jesus — the One to Follow

Dear friends,

What is your deep gladness? What are you passionate about? What are the gifts, abilities, and talents do you feel best about? What really brings you joy, inspires you, energizes you?

This week as we continue our Back to Basics: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus worship series we take a deeper look at Jesus’ calling of the Disciples as revealed through the vantage point of Luke. Jesus called some fishermen to follow him with the words, “From now on, you’ll be fishing for people.”

Luke draws an important distinction here that is easy to miss. Jesus doesn’t say to the fishermen, “OK, so . . . you’re not going to be fishermen anymore. You’re going to follow me instead.” That’s how people usually read that. What Jesus is actually saying to them is, “We’re going to take your special gifts, talents, abilities, instincts, and aptitudes as fishermen and we’re going to use those in a new and different way.”

For me, this depiction of the calling of the Disciples we find in Luke says something important about the call of Jesus on all of our lives. Yes, following Jesus may indeed mean leaving something behind, but usually these things are more negative in nature, such as destructive habits, attitudes that are not loving . . . you get the picture.

What we take with us is who we are — our interests, our experience, our abilities — and we then use those things to serve in ways we may have never imagined. Or, as Frederick Buchner describes it, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

There’s also a wonderful passage at the end of Albert Schweitzer’s classic book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, that talks about this call in our lives.

“He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside. He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.” 

I think Schweitzer’s text really brings Jesus’ call to the Disciples back to us. We follow this call so that we may really know who Jesus is. And the only way to do that? To answer the call to follow Jesus means to “be about the task we are to fulfill in our time.”

Where does your deep gladness intersect with an urgent need in our community and in our world? Has your attention ever been drawn to a particular need — and your unique ability to address it?

I look forward to exploring these questions and more about the basic call to ministry we all share, this Sunday in the Sanctuary.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor


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