Thursday, February 01, 2007

woe is me

i'm reading a book by rob bell called 'velvet elvis.' in this book, he talks a bit about how we need to understand Jesus in his jewish context. one of the ways he does this is to talk about the process by which young boys became rabbis or teachers, as jesus was often called. after years of schooling and memorizing both scripture and midrash, a young boy would then go through a process of finding a rabbi and trying to earn that rabbi's favor, that he might become a student/disciple/apprentice of that rabbi. but you had to be good enough. you had to prove yourself. and if you were lucky enough to really impress a rabbi, to prove that you were good enough to be like that rabbi, then he would choose you to follow him.

in that context, remember the story of luke 5:1-11, in which simon peter becomes a student/disciple/apprentice of Jesus. when confronted with Jesus, peter, that great apostle of the Christian faith, said, quite literally, "woe is me. get away from me, Jesus. i'm just not worthy to be with you."

but jesus didn't walk away. he didn't shake his head in disappointment. instead, he said to peter, "don't be afraid, pete. i am choosing you. you've been working so hard to capture fish, but from now on, with me, you'll be captivating people."

you see, simon peter didn't come to jesus. instead, as he so often does, jesus turns expectations upside-down by going to peter. the teacher seeks his students! and not just any students, but common fishermen! sinners! jesus goes to those whom he would call, and he says, "don't be afraid. i know that this is backwards, and that it freaks you out, but i choose you. you are good enough for me. you've been fishermen. now you will be my disciples."

so what does this mean for us? jesus has chosen us, not the other way around,
to be his disciples;

to be like him.

jesus has chosen you to be his student and apprentice;

to feed his sheep;

to be his body in a world that is longing for his touch.

Jesus has chosen you and says to you, "you are good enough. i know you are a sinner. but i will not leave you - i will not let you off that easy. don't be afraid. you are good enough. you have been chasing all sorts of things. but i am telling you that you will now captivate people for the sake of love."


woe is me.



monica said...

but is it that we are good enough, or HE is good enough to let us follow him? His goodness is everything.

cathyQ said...

In a "self help" world where we are encouraged to "Improve your golf game", "Become a better cook" and "Learn to face your fears." it is refreshing to hear the message of Christ: "Come unto me all that are weary and I will give you rest." This message of healing is so needed today. We don't have to read "Salvation for Dummies." All we have to do is surrender, just as we are. No self improvement classes, no schedules of planning, no "training to be like Him." Come first; learn later. Now that's an innovative method and message.

greg. said...

sure, Jesus is good enough. of course. but i think one of the incredible parts of the Gospel, and what makes it truly good news to us, is that Jesus is saying we are good enough to be his disciples. we don't have to get ourselves into position to be worthy. we are already worthy. we were made perfectly. fearfully. wonderfully. and God looked at it all and said, "it is good."


we don't see ourselves that way, but Jesus does. he looked at peter in the boat, and he looks at us, and he says, "you are good enough."

maybe its just me, but i don't hear jesus saying, "i am good enough to accept you." i hear him saying, "you are good enough."

but that's just me.


Paul said...

Maybe this is semantics, because I kinda understand what your saying Gregor, but...

He died to pay for our sin. We all fall infinitely short. We are slaves to our sin until He sets us free. It is His goodness and blood that makes us infinitely good before the Father. We are not good until he purchases us.

greg. said...

if you are saying that we are tainted by original sin; that we all stand in need of grace, of course i agree with you.

but i also need to emphasize the "once-and-for-ness" of Christ's redemptive act. it is once and for all. "it is finished" as jesus said. we don't need jesus to die for us again. he died, already. we have been made clean. we have been made new. we are now new creations. the old has passed away.

i think we could all use a healthy dose of seeing ourselves (and each other) the way Christ sees us - as forgiven and beloved children of God. not as a group of followers who are failures and never quite measure up.

my point in all of this is that JESUS CAME TO PETER, not the other way around. by extension, then, my point is that Jesus came to us, not the other way around. 'while we were yet sinners,' jesus came to us and chose us.

there is no condemnation for those who are in christ jesus.

that is my point.

thanks for all the debate, it gets my juices flowing!