Summary: It’s really easy to hang out on the fringe of the crowd around Jesus. You could settle for being a spectator merely watching Jesus work in and through others. Or you can experience an exciting life of significance as you follow Jesus and see him work in
If you are ready for more than a casual relationship with Jesus, he is ready too. If you want a relationship with God based on a true change of heart and a lifetime of becoming more like Jesus, then God is ready to give it to you.
1. TROUBLE in World
A British pastor and author made this observation a few years ago. I think it’s still accurate. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,
Men and women no longer … exercise in sport as they used to. Instead, people tend to sit in crowds and just watch other people play. … And I fear that the tendency is even [presenting] itself in the … Church.
More and more we see … people are just sitting back in crowds while one or two people are expected to be doing everything. Now that, of course, is a complete denial of the New Testament doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ, where every single member has responsibility, and has a function, and matters.
Citation: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in Revival, Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 18, http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2000/january/5009.html
I don’t think Jesus intends for the church to be a spectator sport.
2. TROUBLE in Text (Luke 5:1-11 with additional information from parallel passages)
1 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him [for he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him] and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
The fishermen were around Jesus and His crowd of followers, but they were working on their nets. At best they were spectators. Perhaps they were multi-tasking.
3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, [who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother,] and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
This is not the first time Jesus had interacted with these men. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist and heard him describe Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He told Peter, “We’ve found the Messiah – Jesus.” Jesus was a cousin to James and John. Their mothers were sisters. So, Jesus was not making a “cold call” when he stopped at their stretch of beach to teach.
3. GRACE in Text
4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
5 Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"
Fishermen had a reputation for being rough and rugged. Peter though his past performance disqualified him from being with Jesus. But Jesus’ love and grace overcomes everyone’s past.
9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, [come, follow me and] from now on you will be catching (people)."
11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
Jesus’ goal in calling Peter, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples was to teach them how to use their God-given talents and abilities to expand God’s family. They left everything that could keep them from achieving that goal.
4. GRACE in World
When the church starts looking like a spectator sport, something needs to be done to get people out of the stands and into the game.
The following is a fictional piece of satire from Larknews.com:
Julie and Bob Clark were stunned to receive a letter from their church in July asking them to "participate in the life of the church"—or worship elsewhere. "They basically called us freeloaders," says Julie. "We were freeloaders," says Bob.
In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, bellwether mega-church Faith Community of Winston-Salem has asked "non-participating members" to stop attending. "No more Mr. Nice Church," says the executive pastor, newly hired from Cingular Wireless. "Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission."