May 23, 2013

Practical Faith

After moving to a new home, a different church, making new friends, and no longer involved teaching a Sunday morning class, I’ve felt out of the loop, as if God has taken me into the wilderness. As when it happened to Jesus, I’ve had severe temptations. As when it happened to the children of Israel, I’ve experienced wandering and complained about my lot in life.

As I work on theology courses to finish a degree, I’m relearning things about God. He is also opening my eyes to new truths that never before entered my head. Yet in doing the ordinary chores of life, I’ve also seen that God is here with me, and that faith in Christ is practical, whether I am studying, cleaning the house, going for a walk, or interacting with our neighbors.

Today’s verse relates an incident that happened to the disciples of Christ after His resurrection. Everything had changed in their relationship with Him. They didn’t know what to do with themselves so they went fishing. They didn’t catch anything. Then Jesus stood on the shore and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, a simple instruction, but when they did it, they could hardly haul in the size of their catch.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. (John 21:9)

Jesus made breakfast. There He is, in the ordinary things of life — a fire, some fish, some bread and serving a group of tired, hungry fishermen. In doing this, He affirmed that His resurrection had not broken his bond with these men. Beginning with common life, He was still with them.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore...” and spoke to them about nets and fishing, simple concerns of simple people engaged in simple tasks. He met them where they were, not demanding that they be elsewhere. He showed them, and me, that ordinary life has dignity and value to God. As the today’s devotional points out, the only true indignity is sin and selfishness, but all of life is dignified when Jesus brings to it His love and purity, and helps His people to trust and obey Him.

For the most part, I’ve looked at the life of Christ and seen the healings, the miracles, His great acts of love and compassion. I’ve wanted to be like that, but this morning He reminds me that He was a child born in a stable, a boy in a carpenter’s shop obedient to His parents, a young man going to a wedding, an adult who went from place to place owning no place to lay His head. He knew loneliness and sorrow in a garden and felt abandoned by God. He lived among us, not above us, experiencing all that we experience.

To shut Jesus up in a church makes Him the pastor’s Christ, or the Christian’s Christ. To meet Him only in a seminary makes Him the thinker’s Christ. To relegate His presence to my perfect obedience makes Him the devotee’s Christ, yet He is more than that; He is the people’s Christ, everyone’s Christ.

In this verse, Jesus is the risen Christ, a fisherman on the shore preparing a meal for hungry people. I am challenged to “unlock church doors and let Christ out” — by living all of life holding His hand and remembering He is with me in all that I do. It might be in the ordinary chores, but also in simple interactions with others, kind glances, warm greetings, and ordinary chitchat over my garden fence.

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