A good friend and fellow teacher who struggles with anemia posted this on Facebook over the weekend, “Why am I so exhausted after only teaching two days? Oh boy.” 2 down, MANY to go, and tiredness has already hit. I understand; I teach also. But a more pervasive issue comes from the spiritual anemia that so infects American Christianity. We lack energy and motivation for the things of God. We care, but not deeply. We serve, but not joyfully. We give, but not sacrificially.
The antidote may be found in a fishing story, and not a tall tail. The above photo may be shopped, but we can trust in this one! In Luke 5, Jesus, a carpenter by trade, instructed Peter, a fisherman by trade, how to fish. Peter had labored all night, the best time to catch them, and got skunked. So although Peter knew Jesus could build a boat, he felt pretty confident that he knew more than Jesus about what to do in a boat. But to humor this radical rabbi, Peter put out from shore and dropped the nets.
He got into so many fish he had to call his partner’s boat over, and even so, both nearly got swamped by the load of fish. As a fisherman, I’d have latched onto this awesome fishing guide, had him over for a fish BBQ that night and booked his guide services for the next year. However, Peter recognized this was beyond human, and cried, “Go away from me, I’m a sinful man.”
In the fish story, Peter saw the reality of Jesus’ divinity, his transcendence, his otherness. Peter’s own humanity couldn’t handle being that close to that kind of being. Think of running 220 volts through a 12 volt circuit—Peter’s circuit was about to blow.
That alone would be a great lesson, but it doesn’t relate to spiritual anemia. In compassion and love, Jesus then told them to not fear, and gave them a mission—to become fishers of men. Just moments before, Peter wanted nothing to do with Jesus. But when confronted with the combination of Jesus’ divinity and his love, he left his nets and his boats and everything. Tradition teaches that Peter eventually was crucified for his faith, and humbly asked to be hung upside down, not being worthy of the same death his Lord and Savior suffered.
Question: could our spiritual anemia result from a safe, insipid view of Jesus? A friend. A good teacher. A wise man. Do we ever allow Jesus to intimidate us with a hint of his glory? I suspect, if we saw Jesus more clearly, we’d more eagerly sacrifice all we have and are to be part of him. Like Peter.
Kick Starting the Exploration
Examine your own view of Jesus. Has he ever intimidated you with his holiness and transcendence? Why or why not? Is there something in your life that you fear he might change? What could change your attitude, like Peter’s, from fear to passion?
Right now, the ALS challenge to donate and get dunked with ice water is sweeping the country. I kind of like it! But let me start a more significant challenge, one I pray goes even more viral than the worthy ALS. Pray the prayer of Moses, “Now, show me your glory.”
And when you do, and when he does, will you let me know how it went? Thank you.