“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” – Mark 1:16-20
The Christian life begins with a radical call. In every religion, outside of Christianity, the path to God is by way of obeying rules. Doing the right things. Trying to live a good life. When Jesus appeared on the scene, He did not say, “Obey these rules! Follow a certain path! Perform these religious duties!” What did he say? He said, “Follow me!”
With these two words, Jesus is not inviting us to follow a prescribed religion. He is not inviting us to become church attenders. So to what is he inviting us? He is inviting us into a personal relationship with Himself. He is inviting us to come and walk with Him, so that we might come to know the very One who created us. He is inviting us down the ONLY PATH that leads to life! He is inviting us to live.
David Platt in his book, Follow Me, writes, “But we have missed this. In so many ways… we have relegated Christianity to just another choice in the cafeteria line of world religions. Slowly and subtly, we have let Christianity devolve into just another set of rules and regulations… and principles to observe. Hindus bathe in the Ganges River; Christians get baptized in the church. Muslims go to worship on Friday; Christians go to worship on Sunday. Buddhists recite mantras; Christians sing choruses. Sikhs read their holy books and share with the needy; Christians read their Bibles and give to the poor.” [i] Platt is not saying that Christians should not do these things. But what he is saying is that any one of us can do all of these things completely apart from Jesus and completely devoid of the Holy Spirit.
In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Just because we are members of a church or just because we attend a Bible study, does not mean that we are following Jesus. If we really are His true followers, then our lifestyles, our conversations, our desires and our daily habits will be radically different from the world around us. And those who know you will see a radical change in your life.
What is the difference between Christianity and religion? Religion is dead; Christianity is alive! Religion is superficial; Christianity is genuine! Religion is complicated; Christianity is simple! Religion is man-made; Christianity is God-made! Religion is man looking for God; Christianity is God looking for man! Religion rejects the ONE way to come to God; Christianity is the ONE WAY! Religion says do; Jesus says done! Religion brings death; Christianity brings life!
The Christian life comes with authority and power! In Mark 1, we see that Jesus preached with authority and He healed with power. Where did this authority and power come from? Mark 1:35 informs us. “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.” If Jesus needed to pray. We need to pray! The Christian life is empowered by a life of prayer! Our power to live the Christian life comes by way of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we pray and read God’s Word. 2 Peter 1:3-4 declares, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and goodness, by which He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
[i] David Platt, Follow Me, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 54.