During our lifetime here on earth, we all want to be part of a group. Whether we're young or old, we all have a need to "fit" in...to be accepted...to be liked, wanted and needed. When we are young, we join sport groups, like soccer and football...clubs like the ski club, science club, Spanish club, etc. When we get older and begin our jobs and careers we join social clubs, health clubs, or any other type of club or group you can think of...just to be part of "the group". When we reach the "golden years" we join the senior citizen groups. It all boils down to the fact that human beings want to be accepted...want to feel a part of something...want to be a part of something.What that "part of something" is should matter.
Many times, especially in today's society, belonging to something is not what we would consider "right". Even though we are individuals, and want to express ourselves as individuals, we, for the most part, go along with the crowd. How many of us really dress any differently than the next person? How many of us are totally independent of what the business and commercial world of advertising makes us? The influence of the media and the criminal world in our society does not let us or our children easily become the people God intended us to become. How many of our young children have given in to alcohol and drugs just to "fit in"...to be part of the "group"? We want to be individuals, but we wear the same clothes everyone else does, we listen to the same music (if you could call it that now a days), we follow every fad and fashion that comes along, just to feel like we belong! But when it comes down to our real individuality, down to our real personality, down to our real spirituality...we, for the most part, back off and do not feel comfortable standing out from the crowd!!
I will put myself out on a limb here...I do not think, that most of us are very secure or comfortable in the roles we have to play in the world in which we live...I think that most of the time we would rather pursue the things in life that fulfill our spiritual needs. There is an emptiness in what the world and our society has to offer, that if we really thought about it, cannot be filled by what it has to offer...to conform, to follow, to blend in...in other words, to "sell" ourselves... for what?
The pleasures of this world pass away in one moment...Does it matter then what "group" we have followed? In your circle of friends, your workplace, your school...it may not be "cool" (or whatever the word is today), to be a part of the only "group" worth following...not only in this life, but in the life to come. That group is being an active Christian in thought, word and deed. Being a Christian, in most peoples' daily lives, does not take the spotlight. Anything "BUT" following the teachings of Jesus Christ, has become the norm from Monday thru Saturday and for the most part on Sunday after Church...sometimes even before and during church. Where are our priorities in life? Do we foolishly follow others who have no direction or purpose or spirituality? Do we blindly follow our own foolish desires and wants with no ultimate goal in mind...especially that of our eternal salvation? Do we only choose to turn to Jesus Christ when we realize that there is no one else we should really follow? That would be good, if you have the opportunity and the chance to do so...but oftentimes, we do not! Death is a stranger to no one!! But we need to realize that we are not alone and that we have been chosen in this life and in the life to come.
In this life we are a part of a group...we are Christians ...and in the life to come we will be one with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Do we choose Satan, or Christ who has chosen us?Christ chose simple fishermen like Peter, James and John who confessed their sinfulness to Him. They confessed, He called and they followed. We too are chosen and called by Christ to follow Him. But do we realize or recognize our sinfulness as did Peter and the others? Are our eyes, minds and hearts open to what Christ is offering us? Do we confess our sinfulness and follow Him or are we still blinded by what Satan and the world has to offer? How often in our own lives do we feel that we are at the end of our rope? That we are up against obstacles that we cannot overcome?
When Simon Peter felt at the end of his rope after failing to bring in a catch of fish, he did not give up...he put his faith in Jesus and at His Word, a miracle occurred that changed the lives of those simple fishermen, changing them into fishers of men. The scripture says that when Simon Peter saw this, the miracle, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" We too, like Peter are sinful men and women and by our actions and words we say the same thing to Jesus...Go away from me Lord! Sometimes we do this because we fear God and are ashamed of our sinfulness as probably Peter and his companions were. But most likely we push the Lord away because we do not want to change our sinful ways and would rather continue doing them because, for some odd reason, we may enjoy the sin, even though we know it is wrong.
Sin becomes the obstacle to our faith in God and because we do not have faith, miracles do not happen in our lives. When we are self-centered and think only about ourselves, there is no possibility of change for the better in our lives. However, when Peter and His companions recognized their sinfulness, humbled themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ, gave up their selfishness and self-centeredness, Jesus calmed them by saying, "Do not be afraid." We too, are often afraid...afraid of change, afraid of hurt, afraid of the unknown, afraid to let go of things and ideals we find comfortable, afraid to challenge, afraid to, as in a very popular saying, "to let go and let Jesus."
If we are constantly afraid of change for the better in our life, how can we then say we have faith in God? We are sometimes only willing to go so far...only to a certain point where we feel comfortable and then we stop! We don't take that last step of total faith in what our Lord has promised for us.
I am reminded of a story of a man that was lost in the desert and was near death for lack of water. Soon he came across a pump with a canteen hung on the handle and a note. The note read as follows: "Below you is all the fresh water you could ever need, and the canteen contains exactly enough water to prime the pump." It takes great faith to pour out the whole contents of the canteen for a promise of unlimited water. What would you do?
In the Bible, Paul said he was being poured out as a drink offering. How many Christians have enough faith in God to give their all for Him? You have that choice!We think we have all the time in the world to make changes in our lives for the better...Tomorrow I will pray more...Tomorrow I will give more to the church...tomorrow I will forgive my mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, neighbor, enemy...but what if tomorrow never comes. Today ...now... is the time to remove those obstacles, those sins, from our lives that prevent us from having total faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now is the time to make a choice! For when we have faith in our Lord, we will bring others to that same faith. As Jesus told Simon Peter to not be afraid, he also is telling us the same thing..."Do not be afraid! From now on you will catch men...they left everything and followed Him."When you make the choice to follow Jesus Christ in faith, everything in life is a miracle. You can accomplish anything and overcome any obstacle...any sin! You will see miracles everyday in the most significant and insignificant of thing. Open yourself to the calling of our Lord, just as He called those so-called insignificant fishermen two thousand years ago to follow Him...and when they did, they brought about the greatest change in the life of everyone in the world up to this very day. We all can make a change for the better in this world if we make the right choice.
- Very Rev. E. Michael Macura