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There Is Only One Way To Follow Jesus

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I became a Christian when I was eight years old. The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Canyon, TX, was Brother Jim Hancock, and Brother Jim was faithful to present the gospel almost every single Sunday. By the time minute 27 of the sermon rolled around, he would close his message with something like this:

I want everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. I’m going to ask you a question. If you were to die tonight, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? And if the answer is no, I’m going to ask you to just lift up your hand and pray a prayer silently after me.

I heard this week in and week out, and eventually, the reality of my own death and need for forgiveness fell down on me. So one Sunday I walked down the aisle and Brother Jim led me to Christ at the altar and I was baptized a few weeks later. That’s my story.

Perhaps it’s similar to your story, but then again, perhaps not. Maybe you came to Christ later in life. Maybe you came to Christ after a night of partying when your life felt empty. Or when a roommate gave you a Bible and you started reading. Or when one of your children came to Vacation Bible School and then you started attending church. Or because, as is the case with with many of the Muslim faith, you had a dream. There are a myriad of ways in which God draws us to Himself. From our perspective, some are boring and mundane and some are exciting. Some are gradual and some are immediate.

And yet despite all these ways we might come to Christ, there is really only one way that we can follow Christ—that is completely.

A little illustration to help:

As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mark 1:16–18)

The same call goes out today. It’s simple in its wording, but profound in its implications. To everyone of us, Jesus still says, “Follow me.”

But there is a little detail at the end of these verses that’s slyly descriptive of some of the implications of embracing that call of Christ. The detail in question is here:

They left their nets…

Why would Mark drip this little detail into the account? Perhaps he was just trying to be descriptive. They were holding something, and then they weren’t, and Mark wanted us to have a full picture of what happened. Except for the fact that Mark is known, as a writer, to use an economy of words. His gospel is the most streamlined and the most brief, and so he isn’t the writer who would want to paint a verbal picture.

No, there is something else here. And the something else involves not just the physical presence of those nets, but what they represented for these men.