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Sometimes the Only Thing Missing in Ministry is Jesus

Tuesday Re-mix –

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5

O.K., I know virtually nothing about the commercial fishing industry. I’ve never even seen an episode of The Deadliest Catch. And I certainly have very little knowledge of what that industry looked like 2000 years ago. I suspect that Peter and the guys had been through a very long, very hard night of tossing their tangled nets out and dragging them back in empty…I suspect that they were as skilled as anyone at this particular trade but that their very best and most strenuous efforts had been completely fruitless on this particular night…and I suspect they were exhausted and disappointed and frustrated. But that is all speculation on my part, because I don’t really know much about fishing. Nevertheless, I have a theory about what was going on in Peter’s mind when Jesus, the carpenter/teacher/NON-fisherman, wryly suggested that they pick up their nets and head out and try again one more time. I contend that what Peter was thinking in his head at that moment would NOT have made for good scripture.

Very much like Peter and James and John, we have developed some real expertise when it comes to “doing church”. Given hundreds of years to develop our systems and our understandings of scripture, we have a strong sense of what works and what does not work. We study our culture and think we’re pretty knowledgeable about the best ways to teach and to minister and to reach people. And when we set out to implement a ministry and it comes back fruitless, we have all kinds of experts and assessment tools to tell us why it didn’t work and how we need to change it to make it work better. And when we make those changes and it still doesn’t work, after we have exhausted all our expertise and most of our energy and resources, it is easy to conclude that this particular ministry project just isn’t going to work in this situation…not now, not under these circumstances.

But in reality, there was only one thing missing from Peter’s fishing endeavors on that lonely, fishless night: Jesus. Add Jesus to the mix and suddenly everything worked.

So, as you sit on the edge of your bed tonight lamenting the fact that your ministry endeavor simply is not working…not now, not under these circumstances…that all of your expertise just does not seem to be paying off…that there is obviously something wrong with the “fish” in your community and that they simply are not biting tonight…

…consider the possibility that the problem is neither you nor the fish, that the problem is neither theological, economic, demographic nor geographical, that the issue is not methodology nor sociology nor anything at all of a human source…consider the possibility that your effort is simply lacking Jesus.

Look around and see where the Spirit of Christ is at work…and take your ministry there. Try one more time. Put out into the deep water and let your nets down for a catch. Because this time, you’ve got Jesus. And that makes all the difference.

© Blake Coffee
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