God doesn’t draft players for his team in PRISTINE church sanctuaries

Read Genesis 3:8-11

I imagine Peter straining his muscles against the weight of the fish they’d just caught. The feeling of ropes in his hands was familiar, but suddenly, the sheer weight of the catch woke him up. It wasn’t normal to feel sun on your back while fishing. It wasn’t normal to have your nets break under the weight, to fill two boats with one catch, nor to feel too weak to handle it. This was miraculous, this teacher had just done something impossible. As he heaved the last of the flopping fish into the now sinking boat, Peter realized he was in the presence of someone holy. What was a safe familiar fishing trip moments ago, was now a holy temple in the presence of a miraculous man. And, Peter wasn’t in his Sunday best.

Peter, realizing his lack of worthiness, does the only thing he knows to do. He falls to his knees, waist deep in fish, before Jesus. Peter’s words, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man” show us what he’s actually feeling. This action isn’t just an appropriate act of worship, it’s a desperate attempt at escape. Church isn’t supposed to find its way onto fishing boats! He isn’t clean, he isn’t ready and now he’s gripped with fear and shame.

What is it about an encounter with God that makes us want to hide? It’s exactly what Adam and Eve do in Genesis 3 when they first encounter God after sinning. It’s one thing to go to church after dressing up in our best clothes and smiles. But, when we find God in the dark corners of our lives we want to run and hide. Peter doesn’t say, “Lord, you’re amazing I want to hang out with you forever!” Peter says, “Go away, I can’t handle you seeing my sin.” And it’s in that moment that Jesus does something so beautifully unexpected. Jesus says, “No!” I’m so glad Jesus doesn’t answer Peter’s request with a ‘yes.’ Instead Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid.” It isn’t the miracle of flopping fish that wins Peter’s heart that day. It’s the miracle of love in spite of sin that wins him over. Jesus sees us even in the fishiest places of our lives and says, “Don’t be afraid. I want you on my team.” God doesn’t draft players for his team in pristine church sanctuaries. It’s usually in the presence of our darkness that he meets us and by his grace he wins us over.

Reflection and Response

Take a few minutes to recognize the times when you’ve felt the most fear or shame. Then, consider what God might say to you by writing out a letter to yourself from God directly addressing your fear or shame.

By Aaron Bjorklund 

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