As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Like me, you’ve probably joined lots of things throughout your life. You joined a team, joined a company, joined a swimming pool, joined a homeowner’s association, joined a club, joined a church.
We’ve joined different digital sites: social media platforms, signed up to receive daily emails or blogs, agreed to receive weekly coupons so we know where the best deals are. Every time we click “agreed” on an end-user agreement, we join a larger group.
Joining is a good thing. We need to join other people in order to get anything done, to move the ball down the field, to accomplish a greater purpose, to become part of something bigger. We all want and need to join.
But we take joining for granted. We join anything and everything but don’t realize that it’s going to take something from us. When we join, we make a commitment. And that commitment might be time, money, giving permission to look at and use our data. We join, and join, and join. We keep on joining until our lives and schedules are overcommitted to the point that they’re going to burst.
It’s like when you play cards. We keep picking up more and more cards, holding them in our hand until they fan out, making it hard to see all of them at one time. We keep picking up cards but were not putting any down on the table.
It’s easy to join, easy to make commitments, but it’s harder to quit, even harder to say no. But the truth of the matter is that when we say yes to something, when we join, we effectively are saying no to something. We cannot just keep adding and adding without setting something aside.
If you join a league, you have said yes to being someplace at some time. But that also means you have said no to everything else during that time slot. You cannot be two places at the same time, doing two different things.
Here we have Simon Peter and Andrew saying yes to Jesus, which is a good thing. But it also means that they are saying no to something. They were saying yes to Jesus, but it also meant that they were saying no to their jobs and careers. They laid aside their daily routine, the things they had been trained for and practiced all their lives.
We also have James and John saying yes to Jesus. But in saying yes, they are saying no to something entirely different. They were saying no to more than just their careers, they were leaving relationships.
The first relationship they left was their family. They were in a boat with their dad, Zebedee. Imagine the kind of impact that Jesus must have made to motivate them to leave their father, the CEO of their family business. They saw Jesus as more compelling, attractive, and powerful than their deepest family relationships.
And more than just family relationships, they were also leaving a whole bunch of supportive and familiar relationships. People they had worked with for many years, people that they grew up with, learned how to fish from, people they worked side by side with through thick and thin.
The choice is clear: anyone and everything else or Jesus.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
It’s one thing to leave someone or something. But leaving is only the first step of a two-step process. You leave so that you can go somewhere else, to someone else. Leaving means getting away and then getting closer. Leaving means making the space between where you currently are greater and making the space between you and someone else less.
What’s your movement been like today? Are you getting closer to Jesus, or are you getting farther away? Are you getting closer and closer, or are you getting farther and farther away?