Recently it has occurred to me that in both life and leadership, when something really works and I’ve ‘hit the jackpot’ so to speak, I’m immediately thinking stuff like: “Well, this is obviously the right formula/way to do things so I’m going to keep doing it.”
In a Church context isn’t that why many denominations really exist? Someone from a certain tradition ‘changed it up’, a revival might have happened (probably more to do with the fact that they were actually taking time to listen to the Spirit) and as they stood amidst a season of huge blessing and victory they thought; “yep, this is it, this is how God really wants church to be…..forever.”
We’re dying in our own way to ‘hit the jackpot’. If or when we do, what are we going to do then?
One of my favorite Bible stories has always been when Peter the fisherman (called Simon at the time) first meets Jesus.
Here’s a recap:
Luke 5:1-11 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Ok summary time:
Peter’s a fisherman. Jesus isn’t. He’s a Rabbi. Peter’s had a bad night, which matters because this is his livelihood, his business and in a sense, his identity. Jesus turns up and as a Rabbi, tells Peter, an exasperated fisherman how to do his job. At least Peter (probably out of his Jewish respect for Rabbis) say’s “ok, fine.”
He does what Jesus says….and hits the biggest score he’s ever hit. As a fisherman it’s everything he ever wanted. Then and only then does he realise that Jesus is something more than just your average rabbi.
But here’s the question: Why? Why does Jesus do this? Just to provide imagery for his eventual comment to Peter; “I will make you a fisher of men,”?
If I was Jesus, here’s how I would do it. I’d stand on the beach, call out to Peter thus avoiding having to get wet and be literally inundated with smelly fish. I’d say “come follow me,” and if he didn’t respond, I’d then freak him out by revealing that I know his name, his email address, his mother’s maiden name, his facebook password and his PIN number!
In other words, there’s a heap of ways that Jesus can reveal to Peter that he’s God, so why does he do it this way?
Well, here’s what I reckon:
Jesus is giving Peter, the jackpot, the ‘big score’ that he’s always wanted. So that, as Peter finally get’s what he’s been working for, he will realize that compared to the person of Jesus standing in his boat…..
It’s not that great.
The Biblical concept of repentance is essentially this: you cannot be ready for the new life until you’re completely ‘done’ with the old one. Peter has to spiritually come to the place where he can look at everything he always wanted flipping and flopping around in his boat, then look at Jesus….and choose Jesus.
This of course also means literally throwing away his fishing business, including the biggest score of his life.
Let me ask you a question; What have you been striving in the dark of night for?
Acceptance? Finances? A relationship? A resolution to something?……A massive ministry?
Let me save you the trouble; compared to just following Jesus day by day; it’s not that great. I think that we could save ourselves a lot of trouble by simply trusting this story and putting ourselves in Peter’s shoes.
If Jesus wasn’t who he said he was, Peter would still be a fisherman. He became an Apostle and one of the most influential people in history because…Jesus was no ordinary Rabbi. Nothing we’re striving for in the dark, matches just following Jesus.
Whatever you are striving for outside of simply just knowing Jesus, here’s the good news; it’s not that great.