MIRROR, MIRROR – YOU AREN’T WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE | PART II – SERMON RESOURCES
ENGAGING THE PRACTICAL TIP
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 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. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon had been out fruitlessly fishing all night, ready to call it quits. He’s on shore cleaning his nets when this Rabbi, who is teaching the crowds, takes possession of his boat and conscripts him into service. Many of us have been trained to believe that the divine isn’t present in everything we do. We have falsely accepted the dichotomy between the divine and the secular, failing to realize that they are one and the same. This false belief prevents us from being aware of the presence of the living God in our midst. When we accept that God only works in non-secular places, we will never see him show up in our secular lives.
Jesus is deliberate as communicates something powerful about us — he enters our world, where we are, where we live, where we work, where we play, where we rest, instead of requiring us to step out of our world to come to him. Jesus demonstrates this to us as he comes to Simon, right where he is. This is important, Jesus is saying something powerful to us: what we do and who we are matter to God. Over and over, we look in on stories of Jesus interacting with people right were they are. Jesus doesn’t separate the natural from the supernatural. He uses the material world as a cradle to deliver the truth about reality. He is the incarnation of the unseen God–the manifestation of spirit into matter. And when he speaks to us, he speaks to all of us, touching the “deepest mysteries of our existence as human beings.”
Jesus approaches Simon at the point of Simon’s greatest strength: his proficiency and ability as a fisherman. Many of us have heard powerful transformations of people when they reached rocked bottom, we even turned it into the meme, “God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover that He is the rock at the bottom,” and other such statements. But that’s not Simon’s experience. Simon is financially stable. He’s successful. And after this haul is collected, sorted, and sold, his wealth will increase.
We often interpret Simon’s response to the catch as the realization of the holy, righteous Rabbi that’s in his presence. But what if the deeper realization is that Simon is faced with someone who has real power to choose how he will live: dependent on God or dependent on his own ability to create wealth. The devil tempted Jesus and offered him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus rejected the offer. And now right in front of Jesus, Simon is offered the same choice, God or wealth. Jesus just made Simon a wealthy day-trader with a windfall of profits to consider. But here is Jesus saying that he cares more about God than he does about acquiring wealth. Jesus just gave Simon’s life new meaning. No longer are you what you do for bread, Simon. I see you. I trust you. I believe in you. I know you.
Join me, he says, and I will take your success as a fisherman and translate it into success in the kingdom. Who was this man who when given the ability to acquire wealth has chosen to follow and trust God? Who is like this? Simon found himself face to face with a person who challenged his priorities at the deepest level. As Simon leans in, immediately, Simon realizes that he is unclean. This is what happens when we come in contact with the Gospel, when we experience the in-breaking of the Kingdom, many of us are overwhelmed because we realize we aren’t worthy. But Jesus doesn’t ask if we are worthy. He asks if we are willing? Are you willing?
When Jesus invites us to follow him, he is saying, “I have accepted you just as you are.” If we falsely believe that Jesus is actually saying, “I’ll accept you when you get everything right,” we’ve missed the point of what he is communicating.
Jesus is calling Simon and us to an entirely new life. Simon is aware that God doesn’t approve of his life. Jesus doesn’t disagree with Simon’s assessment of his condition, yet, and this is the powerful part, Jesus still calls him and us to follow him. Simon is accepted, but is called to a different kind of life.
And that’s the choice that Simon had to make in that boat. He had to decide what he was going to do with his acceptance? Would he take a step towards Jesus or would he turn his back. We are all being invited into a different kind of life, but it requires that we take a step of obedience towards Jesus to fully realize just who we are.
We won’t ever push into what Jesus is offering us, if we don’t know the God he reveals.
SEE WHAT SIMON SAW AND FEEL AS HE FELT
Take a look at Luke 5:1-11 and quiet yourself in God’s loving presence. Close your eyes and ask God to take the words of Scripture and by the power of the Holy Spirit, make them God’s Word to you. Ask for the gift of a few moments of Spirit-guided imaginative encounters with Jesus. Then slowly read the following passage several times, preferably out loud.
Now allow yourself to daydream on the situation presented in the story. First picture Simon returning from a long day at work without any success or results, frustrated, irritated, disappointed, mad. Then, as if you were a spectator, observe the events as they unfold.
Watch, listen, and stay attentive to Jesus. Don’t be distracted by all the details of the story, focus on Peter and Jesus. As you do this, become present to Jesus and open yourself to your own emotions, concerns, and reactions.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.