When Jesus called His first four followers, Andrew, Peter, James and John, His invitation to them was simple: follow me and I will make you something. That something was not what we might have expected.
He didn’t say, follow me and I will make you more spiritual. Follow me and I will make you smarter about the things of God. Follow me and I’ll bless you financially. Follow me and I’ll give you more self-control.
No. He said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Now followers fish. Conversely, if you aren’t fishing, you aren’t following because followers fish.
Now that’s a little hard for modern Christians to hear because according to a Barna poll, 95 percent of professed followers of Christ have never witnessed; they’ve never fished. By the way, Barna concludes that the vast majority of professing Christians are not even saved, and the Billy Graham organization says that “95 percent of people in our churches don’t know Christ.”
Jesus warned, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NLT).
When I read these verses, they make me stop and think, and you are foolish if you don’t stop and ask yourself, “Do these verses describe my faith? Am I one of those confident about something I should not be confident about?”
Consider this for a minute. Jesus is saying that there are people who will call Him their Master, who will call Him Lord and who do all sorts of religious things, but they won’t go to heaven.
That’s a scary thought and I want to know, “Is this me?” I preach, I do good, people look at me and say “I can tell you are a man of God,” But is that what God would say?
Eugene Peterson in his paraphrase of the Bible, the Message, puts verse 21 this way, “Knowing the correct password — saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance — isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience— doing what my Father wills.” (Matthew 7:21 MSG).
Billy Graham says 95 percent of professing Christians aren’t. Jesus said many who verbally call Him Lord aren’t truly His (I wonder if He would also say “95 percent of the people who claim to be my followers, aren’t”) and Barna said, 95 percent of Christians never witness.
It’s not rocket science. Followers fish and if you are not fishing, then you are not following.
Those of you who are non-witnessing believers, you’re a little upset by this. Rightly so, particularly if you are in that 95 percent of professed followers who believe keeping silent about your faith is the way to go.
If you are reading this and you are saying, “I know you’re right, I just don’t know how to do it.” There’s a simple, non-threatening way to get started in the My Hope America campaign. If your church is not involved, check it out at www.myhopewithbillygraham.org and get involved yourself.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information, visit the Gateway Web site at www.gatewaycommunity.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.