One of the most memorable lines in movie history was when Marlon Brando said, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." Fortunately, the offer Jesus extended to his first disciples had neither the ruthless force nor the unfortunate consequences of "The Godfather." (Mark 1:16-20)
The fishermen could have refused, ignored or rejected Jesus' invitation, "Follow me." They could have kept on doing what they had always done, being the people they had always been, and life would have gone on. Jesus never promised that if they followed him they would become the wealthiest, most successful fishing franchise in town. For these disciples, "prosperity gospel" would have been an oxymoron; an absurd contradiction of terms.
The decision to follow Jesus didn't make their life easier, but it sure made life more interesting! Jesus took their career as "fishermen" and turned it into a calling as "fishers of men and women." He took the ordinary stuff of their ordinary lives and used it in extraordinary ways that went beyond anything they could have imagined.
For the Sake of the Call
Steven Curtis Chapman captured the power of their decision in his song, "For the Sake of the Call."
Nobody stood and applauded them
So they knew from the start
This road would not lead to fame
All they really knew for sure was Jesus had called to them
He said "Come follow me" and they came
With reckless abandon they came
Empty nets lying there at the water's edge
Told a story that few could believe and none could explain
How some crazy fishermen agreed to go where Jesus led
With no thought for what they would gain
For Jesus had called them by name and they answered
Drawn like the rivers are drawn to the sea
No turning back for the water cannot help but flow
Once we hear the Savior's call we'll follow wherever he leads
Because of the love He has shown
And because he has called us to go we will answer
We will abandon it all for the sake of the call
No other reason at all but the sake of the call
Wholly devoted to live and to die
Not for the sake of a creed or a cause
Not for a dream or a promise
Simply because it is Jesus who calls
And if we believe we'll obey
I remembered that song this week while facilitating the Institute of Preaching. Fifteen preachers from Florida and Western North Carolina had been selected for a nine month process to improve their effectiveness in proclaiming the Gospel.
As we got to know each other, it became clear that some of these young preachers are serving in very difficult places. The sad truth is that some churches and some church folks are about as much fun as dealing with "The Godfather." The only reason they are where they are, doing what they are doing, is that like "some crazy fishermen" they had "agreed to go where Jesus led." They had decided to "abandon it all for the sake of the call."
There's no promise that life will be easy for them, but it sure will be interesting to see how God uses their obedience to draw others into new life in Christ.
The Offer Still Comes
The invitation to discipleship is not just for preachers. Jesus meets every one of us in the down-to-earth places of our lives and invites us to follow him. He offers to take the ordinary stuff of our ordinary lives and use us in some extraordinary way to make his love real in the lives of others. It's an offer we shouldn't refuse!