In many of our churches, we recently read the story of the calling of Jesus’ disciples along the Sea of Galilee.
The famous saying in Matthew 4 associated with this call is Jesus’ short and powerful statement, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (The traditional language is, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”)
People have long been puzzled about why Jesus would pick a group of fishermen to be the leadership nucleus of the worldwide faith movement he was establishing.
Clearly, he made a good choice, because Christianity exists all around the world, and we’re still talking about this event in the Christian scriptures today.
Equally puzzling has been the question of why the fishermen accepted the call to become disciples and leaders in the new church community. Their business was fishing, not religious service, relief work or management. Surely their acceptance has something to do with the way Jesus phrased his invitation: “Come to me, and from now on you fisherman will catch people.” In other words, Jesus reached right into their lives and extended an invitation relevant to them and who they were.
In fact, it’s likely that if Jesus had not been dealing with fishermen, he would have come up with other ways to issue his call:
• To a group of actors, he might have said (in a Bogartlike voice): Follow me, and I have a feeling this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. All the world will be our stage, and together we’ll bring down the house.
• To a group of chefs and people passionate about cooking: Follow me, and I will help you find that delicious recipe you’ve always searched for to feed both the body and the soul.
• To a group of writers: Follow me, and you will write powerful stories through which people can connect with the rhyme and reason of their lives.
• And to our own dear techie selves here in Silicon Valley, he might have said: Follow me, and you will know how to optimize the search for life’s meaning for all people, no matter what glitches they may have in their personal operating systems.
It’s fun to think of how Jesus, with his incredible talent to turn a phrase, might have worded his call to different groups of people based on their life context. (Try writing a couple yourself.)
The point of these, however, is simply to illustrate how God calls every person to faith and vision to make this world a better place. What gifts do you have? Fishing, cooking, finance, serving, teaching, technology? Jesus called those first disciples, and by extension all of us, to use their gifts for others.
How can your gifts be used to bring healing, love and hope to our world?
The Rev. David Schick is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1715 Grant Road, Los Altos. For more information, visit praiseimmanuel.com.