The Quality of Love

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We always revert to what we know.

When I look back at our beginnings in Venezuela I am reminded of how true that statement is. We wanted to do something uniquely Venezuelan, to make the church we were trying to establish be different, be Venezuelan. In the end it was uniquely North American. That wasn’t a bad thing—Venezuela is very pro-all-things-North-American. My point is that it just became too complicated to be different and much easier to go back to what we knew.

After the resurrection, after Jesus’ appearances in the upper room and on the Emmaus road, the disciples were still “on hold.” What was the next step for them? They weren’t entirely sure and it was futile to speculate and too frustrating to plan. When we get to John 21 we discover Peter and some of the others reverting to what they already knew to do—fishing.

They were sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, waiting for no-one-knew-what. Peter suddenly announced, “I’m going out to fish...” (21:3). The others went out with him. They stayed out all night but didn’t even catch a minnow.

If the story stopped there some of us might be prone to think, “Well, good! They aren’t supposed to be out fishing for fish anyway. They are supposed to be fishing for men, evangelizing, and God is denying them fish so that they get their priorities straight!”

But the story doesn’t stop there. In the morning, they see a man on the beach who invites them to fish off the other side of the boat. Does what side of the boat you fish from make a difference?

The fishermen did as suggested. We know that the stranger on the beach was the Lord—something, at this point, the disciples didn’t know. I would have thought, like many of you, that the Lord would have continued to deny them fish so that they would understand that they couldn’t go back to what they had done before because they now had a higher calling.

But Jesus didn’t do that. When they obeyed Him, they caught more fish than they could possibly handle (21:6).

This makes the conversation with Peter that follows all the more significant (21:15-17). God would bless Peter and the others as fishermen. He and the others could go back to the livelihood that they had had before. They had options. But their choice would determine the answer to a critical question: “How much do you love Jesus?”

Do they love Him enough to step into the unknown in obedience to His commission? Or was it just too scary to do anything other than what they had been doing all their lives? Failure as fishermen would not be the excuse that would push them into becoming the leading age of the church age. They were successful fishermen (thanks to the Lord) who had to make a choice between what was good and profitable and what was well outside their comfort zone, their expertise, but in obedience to the Lord. Where did their love lie?

It’s a good question, one that we need to ask ourselves frequently. But in the end, it’s the answer to that question that determines just how strong our commitment to the Lord really is.

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