The only way we can find fulfillment is in God, because that’s how we were made. Other things might make us happy for a little while, or even a longer while. But true and lasting fulfillment can only be found in achieving the purpose for which we were made, which is to be in relationship with God. Saint Augustine, addressing God directly, put it this way: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Centuries later, Blaise Pascal wrote that each of us has an “infinite abyss” in our lives that can only be filled by God. These themes emerge in contemporary language in the idea that each of us has a God-shaped hole in our hearts. In specifically Christian terms, that hole in our hearts can only be filled through relationship with Christ, through whom God enters our lives and makes us new.
This is why Jesus begins his public ministry by announcing the time of fulfillment—in him, fulfillment is now possible for all of us. But what does this actually mean? It’s clear that it takes more than just knowing that Christ exists to find fulfillment. Most of us have known about Christ since before we can remember, and yet we don’t all always feel fulfilled. Right after Jesus announces the time of fulfillment, he goes to Simon, Andrew, James, and John and says: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.” In inviting them to come after him, Christ promises them that they will find fulfillment in becoming disciples and making other disciples. So if we want to find fulfillment, it’s not enough to know who Jesus is—we have to really know him, follow him, and join him in making disciples.
If we do not yet have that kind of relationship with Christ, that prospect may sound rather daunting and impossible. It might help for us to consider that we are actually in a very similar place to Simon and the others, and that what God made possible for them, God can also make possible for us. Simon and company were simply going about their business when Jesus, kind of out of nowhere and rather inconveniently, appeared and said, “Come after me.” There is no indication that any of them had ever laid eyes on Jesus before he tells them to drop everything and become his disciples. But amazingly enough, they do! They follow Jesus without knowing him, without even really knowing anything about him or what he might ask of them.
Maybe at some level they recognized that everything else in this life is fleeting, and that so much of what we spend our time and money and energy on is false. Maybe what attracted them to Jesus was some sense of possibility that in him—in knowing him, in coming to know themselves better by knowing him, in helping others come to know him—they might at last find real fulfillment. In any event, something about Jesus attracted them. Something in them wanted to say yes to his crazy invitation, and God’s grace raced to meet that yes, supplying all the courage they needed to make the bold and life-changing decision to drop their nets.
Take Your Next Step: Set aside ten minutes sometime this week to reflect on these questions: What is it about Christ that attracts you? How might you find fulfillment in coming to know Christ more deeply? Where might you need God’s help to make a bold decision?