As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew casting a net into the lake. He said, “Come, follow me.” – Matthew 4:18-19 (NIV, adapted)
Many of us were taught that when Christ returns, we’ll be summoned to account for what we’ve done with our lives. The Judge will judge, the good will fly up, the bad will go down. Way down.
Some pastors zealously preach a Last Judgment. I never have. Not because I don’t believe in judgment, but because I don’t think judgment is a “last” thing. If Jesus has ever walked into your life and called you, you know it’s a now thing, happening all the time.
Fred Craddock tells this story:
The parents of a seven-year-old dropped her off at church every Sunday, but they never went in. They were notorious for throwing Saturday night parties: heavy drinking, loud music, vulgar behavior. Still, somehow, they got their daughter to church in the morning.
One Sunday, they appeared in the pews. At the end of the service, it was customary to invite people to recommit their lives to Christ. They went forward.
Later, Craddock asked why.
“You know our parties?”
“Last night was really bad. Our daughter woke up. She came down to the third step, saw us eating and drinking, and said, ‘Oh, can I say a blessing? God is great, God is good, and we thank God for our food.’ And she went back to bed. Our guests said, ‘Oh, look at the time!’ And fled. We looked at each other and said, ‘What are we doing with our lives?’”
Jesus on the third step said, “What are you doing with your lives?” No one flew up, no one went down, but it was Judgment Day. We should hope for many.
Jesus, come to my shore. Summon me to follow. It’s what I want to do with my life.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.