Commitment; July 11, 2020

Matthew 4:19-20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Just reading Matthew you might think this was Jesus’ first encounter with these men, but John 1:35-42 describes how they first met. That said, this was certainly a decisive moment in their relationship. Peter, Andrew, James and John had doubtless spent time thinking and talking about this uniquely riveting person they had met, and here he challenges them to follow Him. It was a big decision for each of them, biggest perhaps for Peter, since he was married, and easiest perhaps for John, since he was the youngest, but it was no small matter for any of them. They really had no idea to what Jesus would lead them, but they knew they wanted to be with Him, absorbing His words and just being in His presence. It’s kind of like when people fall in love, and they simply can’t get enough of each other. They had no idea what Jesus meant by “fishers of men,” but they sure knew they had been netted! Jesus makes that call to us as well, but we have trouble grasping it because we don’t see and hear Him physically. We too need to taste and be captivated by His presence. Even though it’s not something our physical senses detect, it’s just as real as it was for those first disciples. As He said in the Upper Room just before He was taken from them physically, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:18-19) As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Put a different way, we need to be addicted to the Holy Spirit. As the Japanese term for addiction makes clear, addiction is a matter of not being able to do without something. Our commitment to Christ needs to be on that level. This isn’t a matter of emotions, though emotions often follow. Some people go to Pentecostal/Charismatic meeting for the “thrill,” but that is poor motivation. As those early disciples decided, we need to know that fellowship with God is worth discarding everything else. Paul realized that, and he famously said, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7, 10-11) (It’s important to note that the “somehow” there isn’t that Paul doubted that it would happen, it’s that he didn’t understand the mechanism.) Jesus is more than worthy of our total devotion!

My commitment has grown over the years, just as Paul’s did. For that matter, even those first disciples had their moments of wavering, as Peter famously denied he even knew Jesus. That said, I am at this point more confident that Jesus is real than that I am. After all, in a sense I am a figment of God’s imagination! I have learned a great deal about this commitment business from my relationship with my wife. Over 51 years ago I decided that it would be impossible to get too much of her, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. We really got into the “addiction” thing! We had been married a few years and already had a child when an older person took us to task and said, “You don’t have to always be together!” (Actually, she was a widow, and I think she was wanting to insulate us from some of her pain.) We each have various interests and our lifestyle is such that two cars are a necessity, since we are so often going in different directions, but simply being together is still a very deep joy, peace, and satisfaction. The thing is, my relationship with Christ is even deeper. Many things about my relationship with my wife are temporal, though I know we will both spend eternity in heaven. However, my current relationship with Christ is no more than a foretaste, an “appetizer,” of what it will be like for eternity. That awareness keeps me going, and it makes me want to “catch men” so that they too may experience that for which they were created.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the opportunity I’ve had in the past few days to read my father’s biography and listen to the recordings of his memorial services, both in the US and in Japan, when he died. Thank You for my parents’ commitment to You. May I too draw others to such a commitment, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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