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Follow Me…

January 17, 2015


Tomorrow’s Gospel reading is from John 1:43-51. Immediately prior to this passage, we read about how Andrew, who had been following John the Baptist, heard what John had said about Jesus and decided to follow him. However, before deciding to follow Jesus, Andrew first went to find his brother Simon Peter and tell him that he had found the Messiah.

The very next day, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip, who was from the same hometown as Andrew and Simon Peter, and simply said, “Follow me.” And what does Philip do? He immediately goes to find his brother, Nathanael and then tells him that he has found the one about whom Moses and the prophets wrote about, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. At first, Nathanael doubts… Can anything good come out of Nazareth? But Philip said, come and see for yourself. And finally, after Jesus reveals something known only to Nathanael himself, the questioning brother of Philip believed.

The account of the calling of the disciples in John’s Gospel is different from the accounts in Matthew, Mark & Luke. Yet there is a very distinct similarity between all four Gospels. And that similarity is the call of Jesus to “Follow me.” It is a call which demands a response. And that response is to literally say “I will” and then follow. And the decision to follow was a radical one. It wasn’t a matter of saying, “Can I get back to you on that one, Jesus?” It was a determined decision to say “Yes” and to do it. Amazingly, both Andrew and Philip not only said yes, they went immediately to their brothers to tell them that they had found the Messiah!

How do we respond to the call to follow Christ? Perhaps you are like me, baptized as an infant and brought up in the church. I went to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and Youth Group as a kid. I also went through the Confirmation program in the Ninth Grade. Yet was I verbally or by my actions, following Jesus? Had I actually been listening for the call of God in my own heart and life? I was… Sort of….

You see, I felt the stirrings within me of a call to serve Jesus specifically in ministry in the Seventh Grade. Yet when I told my buddies in Boy Scouts about that sense of call, they laughed. It wasn’t malicious, it was more of a “You’re kidding, You? Really?” sort of thing. And so, unlike Andrew or Philip or Simon Peter or even Nathanael, I set the call aside. Oh I was still active in church and tried to follow Jesus, but I had turned aside from his call.

Obviously, later on, God got my attention again, and that time I listened. What resulted from that event in October of 1980, was an Accounting major turned Business Administration major all of a sudden working through the last two years of his degree before entering seminary.

The thing is, I had to stop and listen for the call of God. And then I had to respond. God was patient with me (and still is, trust me) and the nudging never quite went away. Even as I served God as a youth, there was something more… I just had to listen.

The picture of the fellow reading by his sailing craft on Panama City Beach at sunset is special to me. The special thing isn’t so much the time or the date I took the picture. The special nature of the photo is symbolic for me. It represents the time I spent searching and wondering as my Air Force Chaplain Corps career drew to a close. Much like the younger me in 1980 (or even earlier), I was seeking. In the midst of the noise of my own life and world, I was trying desperately to hear God’s calling once again. And, God did call me… Again… God recalled me into ministry… “I’m not done with you, Michael. Follow me.”

My prayer for you, dear reader is two-fold. First of all, I pray that you will make the time to be still and open to the calling of God. And secondly, that you will patiently await that call and then respond. Don’t worry if at first you respond with doubt like Nathanael or even Thomas after the resurrection. Jesus didn’t give up on them… He came to them.

He is calling you… Come, follow me. I know this blog has focused primarily on my own call to ministry. That is a unique calling for me. However, even before a call to ministry, I do know that I have been called to be a Christ Follower first. I don’t know the specifics of the call God is extending in your life. However, you are called to serve in ways as unique and as individual as you are. I invite you to respond to the call to be a Christ Follower, and together we will see where he leads us in love and service.

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  1. oakabbey permalink

    I’m so thankful you heard…and responded. ❤

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