30 November 2011

Matthew 4:18-22

"As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake - for they were fishermen. And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him." (vv. 18-22)


Working in public relations, it is often said that "it's not what you know, it's who you know". It's all about networking, chumming up to those who are influential and well-connected. If you work your way into the right circles, you might find that people want to know what you think, you get invited to the right meetings and parties, and your career prospects improve.

In the PR world, there are two kinds of folk: people and people who 'know people'. You're only as significant as the networks of which you're a part.

I often wonder whether Britain's consumerist culture has infected our relationships. When you're measured by how many 'friends' you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, by how well connected you are ... what happens to real relationship, to real friendship? What happens to the people who don't 'know people'? What happens to those who are on the fringes, gradually being pushed out and excluded from our clubs, our friendship groups and churches?

In a way, being a follower of Jesus is a little bit like working in PR - it's not about what you know, it's about who you know. You don't have to be au fait with the intricacies of Christian doctrine or understand every letter of Scripture. It's about knowing and believing in Jesus - the rest just falls into place.

But there's one huge difference - Jesus never bought into the lie that people are only as important as their contacts book. Jesus has always been subversive. He doesn't care who you know or where you're from. He doesn't care whether you have five Facebook friends or five million.

Today's passage is about a definitive point in Jesus' ministry - the choosing of his disciples. He could have consulted with the Pharisees, asking them about the holiest people they knew. He could have asked his mum and dad which of their friends were well-connected in the synagogue. He could have consulted his friend list on Facebook ... well, maybe not but you see what I mean.

Instead he chose strangers: fishermen, ordinary men of no special status or celebrity, men who left everything to follow him.

In Christianity there can be no cliques, no chosen groups, no membership-only clubs. There's room for everyone, and that doesn't just include those on the fringes of society - it starts with them.

To Ponder

How do you choose your friends?

Who is on the fringe of your community?

Do you follow Jesus? How do you live your life differently because of that decision?

Bible notes author

Anna Drew

Anna Drew is Director of Communications for the Diocese of Canterbury. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Daily Service and Prayer for the Day and a freelance writer on faith issues.