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October 1, 2006

Someone has said that there is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.  Words that have come to my mind often during my vain attempts at fishing.

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee when He saw Peter and his brother Andrew fishing.  Further on He came to James and his brother John who were in their father’s boat mending nets.  Jesus called to them saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

How do you view Christianity?  Many view Christianity as a set of morals, a religion that makes sense out of life, or, a fellowship of likeminded people.  And, there is a place for these.

But, these words of Jesus are a much greater challenge:  “Follow Me.”  Bottom line:  A Christian is one who follows Jesus.

A rabbi, a priest, and a Baptist pastor were fishing in a boat not too far from shore.  At one point the rabbi said, “I forgot my lunch on the shore.”  So he got out of the boat, walked across the water to the shore, retrieved his lunch, and returned to the boat by walking across the water.

A short time later the priest said, “I need some coffee.”  And, he got out of the boat, walked across the water to the shore, picked up a thermos of coffee, and returned to the boat walking by across the water.

The Baptist pastor thought that if a rabbi and a priest could walk across the water then surely he could walk across it as well.  So he said, “I need to get some sunscreen” and stepped out of the boat.  He quickly sank into the water and came up sputtering.

The priest turned to the rabbi, “Do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?”

To follow Jesus means to follow where He leads and to walk through life as Jesus walked through life.  The requirements of this commitment are huge.

Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).

To deny ourselves means ceasing to make ourselves the object of our life and actions.  God, not self, must be at the center of our lives.  Taking up our cross and following Jesus means following the way of the cross - even suffering and death.

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?  What are you holding on to that keeps you from this depth of commitment?

In the dim light of the early morning, after a rough night battling wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples saw Jesus walking across the water towards them.  Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  Jesus said, “Come.”

It is a huge, all or nothing, step of commitment.  There’s tremendous risk.  The wind is howling.  The water is churning.  Even a strong swimmer could easily drown.  Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk across the water - until he takes his eyes off of Jesus.  (Matthew 14:22-33)

Many are still in the boat.  Others are trying to feel their way across the water looking for submerged rocks.  They fear the wind - or what amounts to wind in our lives.  What we really need is to focus on Jesus - to follow Him.  That choice of commitment is the difference between standing on the shore or actually fishing.  It is the difference between doing Christianity and being a Christian.

May we be committed followers of Jesus.