This is the passage where Jesus affirms a fisherman’s nature.
One of the many mistakes that I have made in my evolution as a Christian has been the attempt to become someone I am not… If only I acted more like a “Christian…” If only I dressed more like a “Christian…” If only I spoke more like a “Christian...”
Many years ago I attended a conference as a school board member on Mackinaw Island. That was back in the old days when pharmacology reps would buy office staff expensive dinners, and taxpayers didn’t even blink when elected officials attended training events at resort locations…
Back on topic…
I had the opportunity to attend training events that were designed to help school board members function more effectively. One was a class on public speaking. As a preacher I thought this would be a breeze. As I listened to the instructor I was stunned to learn that everything I did was wrong. I didn’t dress correctly; I didn’t speak correctly; I didn’t behave properly; I didn’t fit the mold.
I literally lost my confidence to preach effectively as I tried to squeeze myself into the product that the professional speech instructor held up for me to be “a success.” Then someone who cared for me a great deal said, “I wish you had never attended that conference!” He was right. I was never going to be any good at being someone other than myself.
In our passage Jesus recognizes it is time to begin his ministry… and he invites Peter (and his brother Andrew) to follow him and use the gifts that were already innately within them. He didn’t say, “Come with me and I will teach you to be great speakers, or healers, or prophets.” He said in essence, “I will show you how to use the gifts that are within you to impact the lives of others and the kingdom of God. I will show you how to fish… for people.”
The institution of the church too often tells people that, who they are is not acceptable to God; “You need to become someone you aren’t…” and they will show you the way. But the Jesus of the Gospels is saying, “God values the person that you are right now.”
What an amazing thought… Gay, straight, inked, pierced, young or old… that God loves you just the way you are. And like Peter, he invites you to follow him and use the gifts that God has already placed within you.