MARK 1:16-18 (Holman)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
“There Goes Jesus! Let’s Follow.”

“As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “And I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

“Christ-follower” is a favorite designation for people who, believing Jesus is God and Savior of the world, have entered into a personal relationship with Him based on their turning from sin and receiving His forgiveness.

Christ-follower implies a person trying to walk the same path Jesus walks, to live as He lives, to go where He goes. Jesus lived life in such a way that He demonstrated the kind of life we should live, the path we should follow.

This lesson will try to help us analyze how well we at Second are doing in following the steps of Jesus. Are we being effective Christ-followers?

First, Jesus taught us to walk a path pleasing to the Father. This God-ward look is what we call holiness, worship. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, be holy, because I am holy” (I Peter 1:14-16 Holman).

Our staff strives to lead us in this area. If Dr. Joe and I were in a car wreck, and sank into a coma, when Joe awoke, his first word would be “Worship!” My first words would be “Holiness matters most!” Being our staff’s passion, this God-ward focus on worship and holiness receives much attention from us.

Second, Jesus taught us to walk a path of kindness. Our beloved, precious Master taught this harsh world to show compassion for hurting people.

You are humble and compassionate, the most giving people I ever served. Second is big, yet gentle. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a Holman).

During one of our church’s growth spurts, I told John Edie I wanted Second never to use its size to try to leverage or bully others, I wanted us always to be humble, gentle, and kind. John immediately said, “Amen! Thank you!”

We applaud you, Second, for making gentle kindness a reality. It is always an honor for me to say, “I am Pastor at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri.” Never has a Pastor been prouder of his people’s giving heart. Thank you for walking like Jesus, wearing shoes of compassion.

Third, Jesus taught us to walk a path into lostness. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We who are found, having walked out of darkness, must turn around and re-enter it to retrieve others.

We walk three paths with Jesus: pleasing God, kindness, penetrating lostness. We could nickname these paths Worship Way, Serve Street, and Go Boulevard. We at Second simply call them Worship, Serve, Go.

Going is the purpose of our text. In Jesus’ initial command to His first followers, He required them to imitate His act of winning the lost.

Why was reaching unbelievers Jesus’ first requirement of His disciples? Because, obedience in winning the lost would become the best hands-on way to fulfill worship and serve. It is impossible to worship the Lord well and serve others effectively if we are not pro-actively trying to win unbelievers.

To worship and serve aright, we must interact with the lost at significant, relational levels. Some believers, isolating themselves from prechristians, live in a religious bubble. Many believers are too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. Their enjoyment of God’s salvation is selfish, unshared with anyone else.

I have long been haunted and enamored with a poem written by Sam Shoemaker, one of the founding influences for Alcoholics Anonymous.

I stand by the door. . .the most important door in the world ( it is the door through which men walk when they find God. . . .I admire the people who go way in. But I wish they would not forget how it was before they got in. Then they would be able to help the people who have not yet even found the door . . . .You can go in too deeply, and stay in too long, and forget the people outside the door. As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place, near enough to God to hear Him, and know He is there, but not so far from men as not to hear them, and remember they are there, too. Where? Outside the door ( thousands of them, millions of them. But ( more important for me ( one of them, two of them, ten of them, whose hands I am intended to put on the latch. . . . So I stand by the door.”

A few weeks ago we at Second brought to the altar the initials of 4,100 people we are burdened to see saved. We pray daily over this list, each week having placed our hands on all 4,100 initials. All these souls matter to God.

Today I focus our attention on the handful we are each personally responsible for, including the four sets of these initials God has pressed deep into my heart. One of my four has become a believer.

I speak today about my other three, and the ones on your heart who have not yet believed. We are duty-bound to seek, engage, woo, and win them. This is the meaning of “Go.” This kind of going is our weakest link at Second Baptist Church.

This conclusion will shock many. We are known as one of the USA’s “going-est” churches. Recently a missiologist called us a missions powerhouse.

We all know we “go” well in many assorted ways. Recently I gave our staff a pop test. I asked them to write on a piece of paper what they believed Second was most famous for. Of 18 present, 14 wrote missions. I agree.

I don’t downplay what we do. If anyone accuses me of not celebrating our travels thus far, I will rise up to haunt their dreams. We are doing well. God’s hand is on us. My sole purpose in this lesson is to help us as a church see what the next step is for us. Your staff has a growing conviction God is leading Second on a huge pilgrimage deeper and deeper into a land called Lostness.

I want us to take a close look at what we are doing in our going. Let’s put our efforts under God’s microscope and try to see them as He does.

On a Sunday night one month ago, our staff openly confessed our sin of not leading our church to run with purpose in the direction of lostness. Our attendees took home that night batons to remind them to run the race with purpose.

What do we mean by running “with purpose”? This question brings us to the crux of our text and this lesson. We need to re-examine exactly what God told us to do while we are going, to see if we are accomplishing the assigned mission.

If we are following Christ, going where He goes, we will be fishing for people, trying to win them to faith. To run with purpose means to race toward lostness. Our going is legitimatized not by movement, but by doing the right things while we go. We can go, yet in the going not do exactly what Christ prescribed.

Hear a fable. I have a fascination, almost an obsession, with Buffalo Nickels. I think they are the prettiest, boldest coin ever minted in the USA. Buffalo Nickels were being coined during the years Ruth’s and my parents were born. One of my dreams is someday to have a display of four mint condition Buffalo Nickels, one from each year of our parents’ births.

Pretend I am a leader who has a band of followers. Knowing my days are numbered, I ask of them a favor, to go to their city, their state, their country, and all over the world, to find for me Buffalo Nickels, the coin I treasure most.

Imagine my disappointment when one year later they return with beautiful pennies, countless dimes, and sterling silver dollars. The followers are thrilled, but I their leader have only one question, “Where are the Buffalo Nickels I love?”

I sometimes fear the Lord could ask the same of us. “Yes, you are going but where are the unbelievers I love, the “Buffalo Nickels,” the treasure I asked for?”

Our best worship is to give God more worshipers. Jesus is worthy to be worshiped by everyone. He died for all, and deserves the reward of His suffering.

What is our best service? To give the hurting more servants. Surveys show Christ-followers are more involved in volunteer work, disaster relief, and other benevolent acts than are others. We need to give this hurting world more servants, Christ-followers committed to acting like Him through showing compassion.