One of my favorite biblical stories is the one from the gospel of John chapter 21. It is a post resurrectional story of Jesus meeting his disciples on the beach in the early morning. The disciples are fishing but catching very little. Jesus instructs them to cast their nets to the other side of the boat and as you remember they haul in more fish then the nets can hold. The disciples come ashore. Jesus has a nice little fire going and is preparing food. He asks them to join him for breakfast.
This is a defining moment for Peter who as you remember has denied Jesus three times. In between bites Jesus asks, “Simon Peter do you love me?” Peter says of course I love you. Jesus tells him to feed his sheep. Jesus asks again, “Simon Peter do you love me?” “You know that I love you.” Jesus repeats the instruction, feed my sheep.
A final request, “Do you love me?” Peter confirms his love a third time and Jesus responds with feed my sheep.
It is interesting, in the original text Jesus uses the word agape for love, which refers to unconditional love. Peter answers with the word phileo, which is more of a brotherly type of love. Jesus is rescuing Peter from his old ways as Simon (meaning pebble) and calling him into a more powerful leadership position as Peter (rock), one who leads with agape, God’s love.
My daddy was a fisherman and mostly because of this story I’ve always considered fishing a form of church. Followed by an awesome breakfast of course. Jesus set the standard. I actually believe church can be found in many circumstances especially when we are focused, vulnerable, and ready to perceive God’s love. I often attend church from my bed.
I love this story of Jesus’s breakfast on the beach because it has so many levels of meaning. Jesus does not forsake his most ardent supporters because they were frightened and scattered after his gruesome crusifiction. He meets them where they are. He helps them successfully cast a net, a net that will ultimately bring in hearts, or what I refer to as high-end salvage.
Casting. Fishing. Coming up empty.
Story of my life. I delete more work than I publish because so many of my ideas are not salvageable. I believe it is the same with my thoughts, actions, and even my beliefs.
“When you know better you do better.” Maya Angelou
One of the characteristics I most admire about Jesus is his resiliency. He doesn’t give up on people. He is always kind. He leads with compassion but keeps his disciples on edge by challenging their current position and allowing them to wrestle with their own discomfort. They grow at their own pace and ultimately find their unique purpose in life.
Jesus taught with a story or parable, many of them laced with unsavory characters, packed with double meanings, leaving the disciples disturbed, and perplexed. There is the parable of the unjust judge, the neighbor who does not want to be bothered in the middle of the night, the man who pockets someone else’s treasure by buying the field. The parables teach us the nature of God who is merciful. They teach us the predicament of man who is sinful and the secret to salvation which is trust.
I am all these “unsavory characters’ at one time or another. I judge people unfairly and then I’m forced to humble myself. I was irritable last night when we had to take mom back to the hospital for the fourth time. I didn’t want to be bothered. I went anyway and became less selfish. I want things for the wrong reasons. I’ll purchase something I can’t afford because I want the treasure of your attention, admiration, approval. I eventually learn I have to be this for myself and return lines are a bitch.
Up at the lake last weekend with old friends, double meaning, aging and solid. We were “at church,” enjoying our morning coffee on the deck, overlooking the water. This is when I caught the tail end of Barb’s story about a rare find. She said she found it at a “high-end salvage shop.” That statement stopped me dead in my tracks. We are all rare and salvageable. We just don’t know it. God rescued us from a high-end salvage shop a long time ago, purchased, paid for, and immeasurably treasured. If only we could be that for each other.
Any salvageable thoughts? I’ll hunt for them in the comments.
I’m now a permanent writer for Across the Board. My new post comes out tomorrow.
Today is a Good Day
To Thine Own Self Be True