As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20, NRSV)
There is a very compelling image in this passage of scripture that catches our attention, “I will make you fish for people.” Now, probably most of us do not make our living by fishing, but we all do something. It may be a professional vocation, a volunteer service, attending school, caring for home and family, an artistic pursuit, or a retirement hobby. (It may simply be finding the strength to get up in the morning!) But we are all engaged in daily lived pursuits.
What if Jesus offered the same transformative call to each of us? What if all of our tasks became “God’s tasks?” What if every activity became a “Christ act?” What if, instead of saying, “I am a teacher,” or “I am a butcher,” or “I am a politician,” (or “I am a pastor,”) we would say, “I am a Christian, who happens to teach, or cut meat, or govern, or shepherd a congregation.” How does this change our sense of calling and purpose?
Almost all Christians agree that our world would benefit from more Christ. We all see the need for more justice, more healing, more peace, more love, and more kindness. We all see ways that greed and corruption and violence and hostility are doing harm and tearing people apart. We may sometimes question, “Why does God allow all of this to go on?” I have certainly heard this question many times during the current pandemic. But God is present to address these challenges. God is present in us.
We are the body of Christ, discerning and doing God’s will in the world. We are God’s love, God’s grace, God’s comfort, and God’s strength. We are God’s instruments for good in the world, to stand firm against the evil all around us. We are fishers of people, using our God given gifts and talents to serve one another. It doesn’t matter what we do “for a living.” For life, we are children of God, filled by God’s Spirit, joined together to be the body of Christ.
We don’t have to abandon everything to follow Jesus; we merely have to faithfully follow where we are and allow God to transform “what we do” into what God needs done. No matter our daily tasks, we can do all to the honor and glory of God, and by so doing, we can trust that God will use us in the sacred work of transforming this world into the very realm of God.
Prayer: Almighty and wondrous God, work your will in and through us. Take the labors of our hands and hearts and bless them, using them to do your will. Bless our efforts and help us to grow in every way into the people you need us to be. We ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).