As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 4:18-25
How would you define "discipleship"? Perhaps it starts simply with following Jesus, which was certainly easier when he was physically on earth. Maybe it is about obeying what he says. But which gospel, which stories, is it just the ones we like? Maybe discipleship means letting go. Maybe it means a willingness to take risks that go against what rationale sense. The image of Peter and Andrew's net floating, abandoned in the water, fascinating. When was the last time I dropped everything to follow an instinct? I like structure, carefully constructed and carried out plans, not just willy-nilly following some random guy with eternity dancing in his eyes who wonders past and say, "Hey, follow me."
Sure, I know that being asked to follow a rabbi was an honor akin to getting an acceptance letter to Harvard. But, if I received such letter from Harvard, would I really drop everything? Would I leave my family and job? Of course, the disciples, it seems stick somewhat close to home. Later in the Matthew we will hear about Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law...which most of us forget the disciples were even married...but their wives didn't!
Sure, I know no one wants to miss their moment to be something. Many of us live with the regrets of "What if??" What if I would have taken that job or said, "Yes" to the date, or been willing to take a leap of faith? Yet, realistically, often those moments to be something, to cross over the fence where the grass looks so green, once over we see that things are not as rosy as we thought. Even when we say "Yes" to the promotion or to the opportunity to be the chair of an organization, there are expectations and stress and life changes.
My hunch is the disciples' lives changed drastically. When was the last time our life changed drastically because of faith? We are about to run a membership class at the church our served, that question might just make everyone shift uncomfortably and maybe decide NOT to join. But if discipleship stakes a claim on our lives, maybe we can expect some changes and some amazing opportunities and a lot of walking and wandering.
One of the images of the disciples echos the wandering in the wilderness in the book of Exodus. We learn on the road. We learn from the topography of traveling together through the ups and downs, storms and sunny days, and all that we encounter day in and day out. I encourage you to think of your definition of discipleship and maybe even post a comment below for others to see.
May we continue to find traces of God's grace as we seek to be disciples of the One who still has eternity dancing in his eyes.