Matthew 4:19-20, Follow Me

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

//This is the Gospel call given by Jesus: Follow me. It’s a precious offer, repeated by ministers and evangelists everywhere.

The question is, how? When Jesus said the words, he meant them quite literally. Drop everything, separate from your family, give your wealth to the poor, and join my entourage. We’re going to spread the Gospel news, and then we’re going to Jerusalem for a little sacrifice. Follow me. But today, there ain’t no bearded, sandaled philosopher to follow to Jerusalem anymore, so we can no longer take Jesus’ words literally.

So, as Christians, we guess at what Jesus would have meant, had he been speaking directly to us. Then we argue over our guesses, condemn other religious interpretations, and humbly pride ourselves on knowing the Truth … what Jesus really expects of us, 2,000 years later.

I grew up in a strict Christian sect which interpreted many of the teachings of Jesus and the early church quite literally. We believed the ministry must give up all and be homeless; we believed the Gospel must be freely given, taking no pay; we believed church buildings were an economic hindrance, so we gathered in private homes or rented halls when necessary. We looked down our noses at other Christians who interpreted the words “follow me” in any different manner. Somehow, we knew what Jesus would have meant, had he been talking to us instead of to a cluster of backwoods fishermen in the first century.

And while I have no argument with the teachings I grew up with, neither do I any longer have any argument with the various denominational teachings around me. How could I, after reading the Bible for myself? We can’t follow Jesus the way he really meant it, so the best we can do is … the best we can do.

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