There are people in the world who call themselves survivalists. They stock their homes with huge amounts of non-perishable food and water. They invest money in gold, silver and precious stones. They stockpile guns and train for combat. All this is done in hopes of surviving what they see as the eventual collapse of the social order. Survivalists are fatalists. With so many complex problems like war, poverty, hunger, exploitation, perversion and the breakdown of the family, they have decided that there are no solutions. In their minds, there are only two options: to lay down and die or take up arms and build walls of protection around themselves, always ready for battle.
Amid such a pessimistic view of life we hear Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee saying to some fishermen, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:12-23). These are words we need to hear. Jesus’ invitation to follow him is not a call to follow him in a funeral march of civilization’s death. The spirit of Jesus is one of hope for a better tomorrow. “Follow me” is an invitation to walk with him to a future filled with light and hope.
Jesus is more interested in the future than in the past. It is not so important where we have been, it is where we are going. It is not whether we have fallen, it is about getting up again. It is not about past failures but about the possibilities for the future. We can either face the future with gloom or hope. We do not know how the future is going to turn out, so why not look toward it with hope?
Jesus must be amused by our pessimistic attitudes. Do we really think ours is the only age of serious troubles? Any society that would put an innocent man who loved people passionately to death had to be in trouble. Jesus always pointed to a better tomorrow. He told a condemned woman that he did not condemn her and instructed her to sin no more. He told his disciples to take courage in the midst of the sufferings of this world because he would overcome them. The fishermen dropped everything to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, dropping our fatalistic attitudes means the difference between living or just surviving.
Together in faith,
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector