"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men," Jesus told Peter and Andrew. Both brothers looked up, and straightway they left their nets where they were and followed after. The call to discipleship will always invoke a response that expresses a person's willingness or reluctancy to follow. What can cause a person to hold on to their proverbial nets and remain by the shores? In a world that individuals are always plugged into and reliant upon what it can provide, the decision to follow Christ can cause conflict? Truthfully, it is supposed to cause conflict.
The first characteristic of a disciple is the single-minded obedience to march behind the guidon flag the leads the way. The guidon flag is a military banner that identifies the unit, among others. It is a source of motivation, loyalty, camaraderie, and fidelity. Jesus, the embodiment of Jehovah-Nissi (i.e., The LORD my Banner), is the guidon that leads one away from their past relationships, devices, and activities to a new life.
The single-minded obedience of a disciple must be accompanied by the willingness to break from the natural ties of life. A disciple must make the deliberate act of "walking away from the nets" and continues to move "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14). Naturally, as a person moves forward in Christ, the distance between the believer and those relationships and activities that are not in Christ will increase. Ultimately, this will cause an internal conflict between the new man in Christ and the old man in the world.
All believers face this dilemma. For some, it may take weeks or even months before they are reminded of their former connections, while others the call and the conflict are simultaneous. While Jesus was passing by a village, he saw a man and called out to him, "Follow Me." The opportunity to learn at the Master's feet as an apostle was given to this stranger. The man responded, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father" (Luke 9:59). The man's reaction was one of hesitance as he sought an excusal from his spiritual calling to take care of his ailing father until his death; then, once buried, he would follow. Jesus responded to the man, "Let the dead bury their own dead." At first glance, it appears that Jesus did not have a heart; he doesn't seem to understand the emotional anxiety this son had. On the contrary, Jesus is expressing that a person should not allow false relationships or perceived responsibilities to delay the decision to follow. The usage of the word "own" lets the reader know that there were others in the man's family that could have taken over the responsibilities that he had.
The invitation to be a disciple of Christ is delivered to those who are out of order, lives filled with drama and confusion, brokenness, and addictions. The message of this lesson is simple; do not allow earthly obligations (i.e., social connections, friendships, failures, perceived responsibilities, entertainment, etc.) impede spiritual progress. The death of Jesus Christ left humanity without an excuse. There is nothing more important than answering the call of Christ and marching forward.