When You Have No One to Follow
Often times I have come across people who are greatly discouraged by the fact that they were not reared in a Christian environment. Some seem to feel that this gives them some kind of excuse as to why they aren’t living for God now. Others are just truly discouraged. They feel they are at a disadvantage and will never “catch up” to other Christians.
In Matthew 3, we read where Jesus was calling disciples to follow Him. In verses 21 and 22 it says, “…He saw two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; He called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.”
James and John had to leave their father. They had to leave the environment in which they were brought up to follow Jesus. Their parents might have taken them to the synagogue each week. They might not have. We simply do not know. But, we do know that when Jesus called both of Zebedee’s sons, Zebedee saw the Messiah as well, heard the call and stayed in the boat.
The sad reality is that many of us have family who are the same as Zebedee in this passage. They hear the same call that we have heard and simply stay where they are. They choose to keep their life the same and ignore the call of Jesus. This is heartbreaking, but when we hear our own call we have our own choice to make. That is encouraging. No matter what our family environment was and is, we still answer the call of God ourselves. It’s our decision.
We read later on in Scripture (Mark 3:17) that James and John were given the name “Sons of Thunder.” I have always assumed that they deserved the title due to antics they had pulled, or attitudes. It also could be a foretelling of how they would turn their world upside down for Christ. I still do think that one of those options is most likely the case, but they are called “Sons OF Thunder.” This leaves us with the possibility that their dad or mom (GRIN!) could have been the thunder. We all have family like that, don’t we? They are the “thunder” in the environment wherever they go. When someone finds out we are related, we cringe.
Again, James and John give us such hope. They revamped their reputation (whether it was their own, or their parents’) because they gave their life to Jesus. They did not allow their dad to hold them in the boat, they pressed on to their calling. Jesus called and they said, “Yes.” What a beautiful picture for us. The “Sons of Thunder” became ambassadors for love and hope and truly did turn their world upside down then, and now. They made their own decision to follow Christ fully.
Can you just see James and John looking across the way to catch the other’s eye when Jesus said in Matthew 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.” They were assured that it was worth it to follow Jesus. Nothing else on earth can compare.
So, be excited for the task that God has for you. If your family environment has not been the best, know that your generation can be the generation that starts the legacy for Christ in your family. Know that your children can remember you as the Christian influence that you were created to be…and by the way, don’t be afraid to leave the boat when necessary.
Is that thunder I hear?