Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
I was an old fisherman of Galilee Lake
I’d fish for my keep, not for fishing’s sake
I’d take what I could and I’d get what I’d take
I’d sell my fish for a living to make
I looked and I saw a man by the shore
He spoke to me and asked me if I wanted more
More riches than I’d ever dreamed of before
Weary and empty, I listened for more
He told me of life, of what it could be
He told me a man was born to be free
He was given his eyes so his eyes could see
He said lay down your past; “Follow me”
So I laid down my nets and I walked from the shore
Like a weathered soldier who’d walked from a war
He turned and I followed, not questioning why
I knew he was right by the truth in His eye
This song, about the calling of Simon Peter, is a remnant of the 1960s, torn from some distant mooring in my brain that no longer recollects its origin. It was one of my favorites, and the favorite of a man I was following at the time, who was carrying out Matthew 28:18-20 with me. Like Jesus calling Peter, this man asked me to drop what I was doing — which at the time was getting ready to go to seminary — and follow him, and he would “teach you everything I know.”
He didn’t promise me the moon; he didn’t show me the path, the program, and what I would look like when it was done; he merely said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
“I’m not sure what I’m doing,” he went on to say, as best as I can recollect, “or where we’re going, but something’s up … the Spirit is moving, and we’ll go where He goes, one step at a time. Something’s happening, and I promise you, we will be a part of it, and if you cloister yourself in a library with a bunch of books right now, you might miss it. We’ve already got the most important book right here,” he put his hand on his Bible, “and we’ll learn from it as we go. I don’t know everything, but I’ll teach you everything I know as we follow Christ.”
That was the essence of it: “Follow me as I follow Christ.” This is what discipleship really is. There isn’t a manual for it. It’s not a twelve-week program or a ten-step plan. It’s asking people to follow you as you follow Christ. That’s it. It’s simple and it’s brilliant. The simple part is us; the brilliant part is Christ in us.
Doesn’t mean you have it down. Doesn’t mean you have it right. Doesn’t even mean you won’t blow it, because you will. It only means that in everything that happens with you, Christ’s presence and power will be made evident. It won’t be something you manufacture; it will really be Him, in you, through you, and in spite of you.
In this regard, the man I followed had flaws; he never pretended not to. In fact, he didn’t try to hide anything from me. He simply let me into his life. “Come go with me,” he said. “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Can you do this? Can I do this? I don’t know why not. It requires only two things, neither of which are inaccessible to any of us: availability and trust. Availability means to make your life accessible to someone; trust means to believe the Holy Spirit will show up. That’s it. I can’t think of anything more.
Brilliant … simply brilliant.