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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 make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18)
You may have heard the expression, “once you see this, you can’t un-see it” in reference to some particularly disturbing picture. I find this quote from Francis Chan to be like that: once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it.
Francis Chan is one of the more intriguing Christian leaders around today. At 52 years old, he has already lived quite the life as a follower of Jesus. He planted a church in California in 1994 whose membership grew into the thousands. He became well-known to many through his book crazy love, published in 2008, and became even better know when he resigned as pastor of his megachurch in order to follow Jesus on to the mission field in India, Thailand, and China. To my understanding, he had returned to the United States to become part of the house church movement in California, helping the kingdom to spread through smaller disciple-making communities. His last book, Letters to the Church, discussed this shift in ecclesiology.
This past week, he announced that his family would be leaving the United States to live in Hong Kong and follow Jesus’ call to be missionaries among the “ultra-poor” in Asia. In his chapel address at Azusa Pacific University last week (you can hear the whole message here), he explained his decision this way:
I describe it like this: I feel like I’ve been fishing in the same pond my whole life and now there’s like thousands of other fishermen at the same pond, and our lines are getting tangled and everyone’s fighting over stupid things, and one guy tries some new lure and we go, “Oh he caught a fish, let’s all try his method!” And it just feels like, what are we all doing here?
What if I heard of a lake that’s like a five-mile hike away, and no one’s fishing it. And they’re saying, “Man, the fish are biting — just throw a hook in there and they’ll go for it!” Man, I’ll make that five mile hike if I love fishing.
What would keep me at that same pond? I’ll tell you what would keep me at the pond, is I built a house on the pond, and all my friends have houses on the pond. And we don’t even fish that much, we just go out, and we hang out, and we talk, and we play, and I don’t want to leave my friends.
But if my calling is to go fish, and there’s no one fishing over there, why wouldn’t I go?
Wow. That is one of those quotes that can make a Christian stop and ask themselves if they are truly following the call of Jesus where they are, or if they have abandoned the call of the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations in favor of living a more self-centered existence and hoping God blesses their decision. I know it makes me ask myself that question.
Enough talking. Time to start listening. The one who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying. Amen.