This past Sunday I was privileged to preach my first sermon as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Tallahassee. With these words, I have the privilege of writing my first article for our newsletter. As I consider these firsts and the new season of life in our church, I keep returning to Jesus’ first words to his disciples in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus sees Simon Peter and Andrew and says, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).
Jesus’ ministry is all about the gospel, the good news of salvation. In Jesus, the kingdom of God is at hand. God’s purpose, God’s future, is no longer a far-away distant hope — it is right here in Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfills all righteousness in his life, pays for our sin through his death, and proclaims his victory over sin and death through his resurrection. Everything that Jesus has done we begin to experience when we follow him in faith and repentance. This is salvation, a foretaste of the kingdom of God, what we were made for.
Every new season of life in a church should be a fresh expression of that same message Jesus proclaimed. Every new season is simply a new opportunity to keep following him, to keep living for the kingdom. This is why we are here, to bring honor and glory to God by relating to him in Jesus Christ, to follow him in worship, service, and mission, to see the glories and wonders of the kingdom spread throughout the earth as we anticipate the kingdom’s fullness.
Jesus makes that clear when he tells us what happens when we follow him. He makes us “fishers of men.” We come to know God so that we can make him known. As we love God, hear from him, and grow in our relationship with him, we are able to make him known more and more. As we love God as we should, we begin to love each other as we should, and then we begin to love others beyond us as we should. We begin to see our homes, families, vocations, neighborhoods, and schools as mission, opportunities, and callings. We begin to realize the great purposes God has for each of us individually and together, and to see him work through us to do amazing things.
So what I am looking forward to in the months and years ahead is following Jesus together. I look forward to fresh expressions of his gospel in us and through us. I look forward to growing in our love for him together and growing in our desire to share that love with others. I look forward to God’s blessings on our church, our community, and to the ends of the earth as we look to those first words of Jesus.