Our preacher at Massanetta Springs Middle School Conference was Pastor Chad from White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, NC. He walked us through the text we heard this morning from the gospel of Luke. After witnessing the miraculous catch of fish, the fishermen were ready to begin a new career, fishing for people, inviting other people to leave behind their old life and follow Jesus. Pastor Chad compared fishing for people with fly fishing… I have never been fly fishing, so I have to trust him. He said there are two different kinds of lures that are used in fly fishing. One is an imitator and one is an attractor. The imitation lure is made to look like a little fish the way it moves in the water. The bigger fish follow it because it imitates real food. Fishing for people calls for us to be the ones who imitate the people we see around us who are living, breathing disciples. When we copy their words, their actions, their attitudes, others will be watching, others will come. The other kind of lure has bright shiny colors which attract the fish as it glitters in the sun and in the water. Attracting people to you is accomplished by doing your best, being yourself, using the gifts God has given you. The fishermen left it all to follow Jesus. They embarked on a new career, keeping their eyes on Jesus and finding ways to imitate him. They began using different talents, attracting others to be followers too.
This is week three of our July Prayer Dares. It might be the most difficult prayer dare of all. The dare is this: can you, will you really and truly follow Jesus? Before you raise your hand to say, “Pastor Deborah, I already am a Jesus-follower!”, I dare you to stop and evaluate. When we look closely, we will see that there are material things, attitudes, desires, people, fears or shame that get in the way. Can you leave behind what gets in your way and follow him? Those first followers left their nets, their boats, their co-workers, their families, even. They left it all behind. It was that important.
This week I dare you to spend some time in prayer with God as you look at what gets in your way of really following Jesus. Is there something that blocks you from living as a person who refuses to label others? Or from really living in a way that is generous, that seeks out ways to serve, that can put your own needs or desires on hold when there is someone else whose needs are more dire? What piece of your life do you need to leave for your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
That is the dare. To take the time to assess yourself. Like any dare, it is hard. It is hard to admit that you have something that you need to leave behind in order to truly follow Jesus. This is not Lent, a temporary time to focus on strengthening your relationship with God. This is life. Your life.