"Come along and see for yourself."
The book of John opens with a calling of the disciples - the intimate twelve that would become the inner circle of companions to follow in his footsteps, learn of his teachings, and be support in his times of trial. In looking at the call to become a disciple, I see that words, "Come along and see for yourself." Jesus was not in the business of convincing these men to follow him - leaving all they had to follow along in his ministry. Instead, he asked for them to decide for themselves what it was that he proclaimed as truth.
As I considered these words, several things came to mind:
- Discipleship requires us turning our attention from what it is we are doing at the moment towards the Great Teacher, Jesus. These fishermen, tax collectors, and tradesmen had to specifically turn from what they were doing to follow Jesus. This was no easy matter for them - their entire livelihood was affected by this one matter of redirecting their attention. The same is true for us today. We turn from what we have been involved in toward a newness of life, mission, and purpose.
- Discipleship requires following. Sometimes, we think of those that are "followers" in a negative manner - seeing them as weak, unable to make their own decisions, and not able to really step up to lead. In Jesus' eyes, the one who followed him could take no greater "stand" in life. These men were laying down their "right" to be self-directed men. They were actually exchanging the role of "independent" to dependent. Following suggests the exchange of being "self-governed" to the submissive place of being "Christ-governed".
- Discipleship requires finding and aligning yourself with others that will "turn and follow". There is a sharing in the message, in the work of the gospel that brings meaning to this new life. It is in walking with others that we see the proof of what it is to experience Christ.
- Discipleship requires obedience. Jesus asked them to lay down their nets - that which they were the most familiar with - and take up a new pursuit. This was not the same for them. They were expected to step out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. Their place of familiarity with what it was they were doing was being transitioned - they were moving into a place where everything was new, fresh, and vital. This would be a place of learning for them.
- Discipleship requires coming to "see for yourself". They could have stayed on the shore, mending their nets, or in the tax house, recounting their money. But...they didn't. They were not willing to have a second-hand experience. They wanted to see it all for themselves. Some might label this a sense of curiosity. Others might see it as a sense of daring. Whatever it was, they saw something that intrigued them and excited them to action.
- Discipleship requires an openness to the newness of revelation that God will give. Nothing matters more in our process of learning than our willingness to learn. When we are "open" to learning, there is much to be taught.
The call was one of "coming to see for themselves" - stepping outside of their comfort zones and into a place where not everything was "sure", or "planned in advance". In the movement away from their "comfort zones" they would experience revelation greater than they'd ever imagined. It is as we answer the call to "come and see for yourself" that we are expanded in our revelation!