In Matthew 4:18-22 we read... And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. According to John Chapter 1 verse 35-40 Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and it is very likely that John the Revelator himself was, but was careful to studiously conceal his name (See Adam Clark Commentary). This would mean that quite possibly Andrew, Peter, James, and John were all friends before the met Jesus. However that fits together one thing is certain, they were all fisherman. And after their first meeting in John 1, Jesus passes by their way with a life changing command... 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Notice Jesus didn't ask them to follow Him... He told them to follow Him and He would make them to be fishers of men. The scripture is clear to demonstrate that when Jesus gives a command everyone including James and John's father was under His authority for them to obey. And obey they did and they straitway left their father with the work of mending nets and fishing for food and they followed Christ. You see, James and John's dad probably had a career in mind for his sons to take over the family business of fishing; but God had different plans. We know that the family was probably somewhat wealthy because in Mark 1:20 they had hired workers. Scripture does not elaborate on their father anymore, we do not know if he objected to this or not. His wife, indeed, appears in the list of the pious women who were in constant attendance on the Lord towards the close of his ministry, who watched him on the cross, and ministered to him even in the grave (Matthew 27:55,56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; compare Matthew 25:20; Luke 8:3).
Forsaking Your Plans
There is a cost associated with following Christ that can be truly great. Many young men are pressured by the father to be what He wants them to be. Young men, who want to please their dad, often end up doing what he wants. This is one of many obstacles to following Christ. You see, many people like the idea of following Christ, but not the reality of following Christ. They follow in word and in tongue, but not in deed and in truth (I John 3:18). Before Jesus' ministry was over most felt that forsaking all and following Christ was simply taking things too far. Some pretend to follow Jesus, but are never found one single place that Jesus would regularly go and they attend many places He would never be found. You're not a follower of Jesus until you are following where He would be going. Following Jesus means to forsake our will for our life and allow Him to lead us into His will... the will that He rightfully purchased for us to walk in (with His own blood). We invite God to follow us with His presence into our services, but He is demanding that we follow Him with our presence into the fields.
Self Willed and Spirit Filled 'Christians'
II Peter 2:10 paints a portrait of what it really means to walk in the flesh. To describe this he uses a Greek word authades (ow-thah-dace) and it means self-w illed. It can also be translated as arrogant, but is not rendered as such in the KJV as it is in the RSV, etc. It is translated as 'overbearing' (domineering) in the NIV. Christians who so desire to do their own will, that they refuse to do the will of Him that bought them (I Peter 2:1) by their own actions testify that they were never bought with a price. A slave knows they are a slave and they obey their master. When He says go they go; they do not argue or do their own thing; why? Because they are slaves and it is not for them to question. If we are slaves of Christ we follow Him no matter when or how He asks us to 'leave our nets' and do His will. This is the #1 problem in Christianity today in my estimation. Nearly everyone is doing their own thing and calling it 'following Jesus' or worse yet they believe they can be self-willed slaves of Christ and do their will and pretend to be Christians. But what saith the scripture... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23). Why? Because when they got ready to be seen of men they prayed for the anointing and God used them... but in their life they did their own will and not God's. The things we do that men would 'glorify us for' don't even count as God's will (Matthew 6:4-6). We already have our reward on earth when we are praised of men. When you really start doing God's will-you won't get many praises, because God's heart is with the helpless.
The Fearlessness of Authades (ow-thah-dace)
The root of a self-willed heart is firmly planted in the soil of rebellion. We see it boldly today in Televangelism. When ministers become 'self-willed' they begin to make merchandise of the people. Hear the words of Peter... But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (I Peter 2:1-3). Church, that is EXACTLY where we are today. The 'way of the truth is being evil spoken of.' Why? Because of the damnable heresies that make merchandise of the people. Even well intentioned people who you ask to come to church these days will ask you 'Do I have to give $X to come to YOUR church?' Preachers who talk more about money than they do souls are serving the God of Mammon. When they take more time to raise funds than they do to give an altar call they serve Mammon. What shall be their end? 'SWIFT' destruction. If a person is obedient to God they don't have to remind Him to bless them. And when He blesses them if they love Him they will do what HE wills with the money. This is why a Bishop's #2 requirement according to Titus 1:7 is they must not be self-willed. If they begin seeing the Kingdom of God as a 'Business' they are OUT of God's will automatically. Soon their decisions making processes are little different than board meetings in a corporation. GOD does not have control of the ministry- the money (mammon) does. It controls their messages and the tone and content of their teachings. Soon no messages will be allowed that may cut down on the offerings. Sin preaching on Television is nearly extinct. There are but a few brave souls left. The Gospel of prosperity is a damnable heresy that seeks to lure people into the Kingdom as though it was a multi level business opportunity. And as Paris Reidhead put it- their 'Gospel of humanism' is no different than two men sitting in a coffee shop talking about going down the street to rob a bank in the way it appeals to the flesh. Luke 20:46-47 describes them seeking vainglory, devouring widow's houses and receiving the greater damnation. There are really only two types of people... those who serve their money as God and those who make their money serve God. One serves 'mammon' the other serves God- but not both. Christians are slaves to God they are not the servants of mammon.
Taking to The Fields
A lot of people are 'gung-ho' to reach the lost until the ministry is placed in shoeleather. The time is coming and now is that real messages of the true Gospel that confront sin and sinners will not be allowed in most Churches- because of the backlash associated with it. This generation, like none in history, cannot endure persecution for the words sake- neither can they endure the word of God when it is merely quoted. It was prophesied by Jesus and is now even is at the door. As it is written... But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Mark 13) That is a prophecy of the last days in which we are now living. People cannot endure sound doctrine and heap to themselves teachers having itching ears. They don't care what you talk about as long as you don't invade their comfort zone. That's hard to do though when God has called you to wake a church up out of its deep slumber.
Does God Honour our Sacrifice?
THE purpose of the Church is to go into the world and teach all nations the Gospel. It is why the Holy Ghost fell at Pentecost and it is why Jesus died on the Cross. It is up to each generation that passes to ensure that Christ receives the RETURN on the investment He made on the Cross. To go into the fields and gather the wheat that He purchased with His own blood. Its as though I hear the Holy Ghost whispering... What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? (I Samuel 15:22). How can we in good conscience tell the Lord how much we love Him in all our 'worship' songs and not even be in step with a more direct command to reach the lost? We put together an offering for God like unto Cain- its not even what He asked for. We bring in the fruits and vegetables of our songs and hymns- when God wanted the 'Spotless Lamb's reward of His sufferings' (souls). To obey is better than to sacrifice. Do we really believe that God desires our worship more than He desires our obedience and the souls that He came and died for? As I mentioned before, people are all for a feel-good revival, perchance some would endure a revival of worship and possibly repentance. But who could endure a revival of perpetual holy living and reaching the lost through evangelism?
Church in the Community
Drive around the inner city some time and notice something about old churches... they have very little parking. There was a time when everyone came from the local neighborhood to church and the flock was that churches community. You came to church with your next door neighbors. You loved the neighbor (if you were genuinely saved) and could live as Christians around each other to both encourage and make one another accountable. Its not so today. People drive for miles to Church to be with semi-strangers- and the ease to which they fall into sin is immeasurable- because they are not in church with their neighborhood. What would our neighbors say of us if they came to church? Instead of building lots of little churches in communities and having the church reach their immediate neighborhood we build mega churches that are expensive to maintain, require compromising means of raising funds, requiring a compromised message. It exalts leaders into pride because of the numbers and it allows compromising Christians to 'hide' among the numbers with little or no accountability with their real neighbors. In this scenario we are sure to find compromise literally EVERYWHERE. This IS the Church growth philosophy played out. But Jesus said to Andrew and Peter and James and John... follow Me and when they followed HIM--- HE led them to where the harvest was and not the other way around.