What I love about being a Christian is the heart change that takes place. I know it has taken place in my own heart. I’ve seen it in countless others. But I absolutely love to see it in the Bible, to read the stories of men and women who are just like you and me. Human. Fallen. Making mistakes but then getting back up again. Led and taught and guided by our Lord.
For example, Peter. I love Peter. He is so ‘human’. I love that fact that he starts out so ordinary. An ordinary fisherman, leading an ordinary life. In the Bible narratives we see his personality, early on, as rash, hasty, irritable, angry, unsure. He often blurts out things without thinking. Yet Jesus singles him out to be the first leader of the church. Jesus sees what Peter will become. Resolute. A leader capable of great loyalty and love.
I’m reading a great book right now – “Spiritual Rhythm” by Mark Buchanan. In his book Buchanan points out two different situations with Peter regarding a boat load of fish. The first takes place in Luke 5:8. Jesus had just told Peter, who had been fishing all night without catching a thing, to lower his net again. He did, and this time, the nets were so full they had to call for help. They ended up with two heaping boats full of fish! Peter’s response to Jesus was, “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
In his book, Mr. Buchanan has us consider that perhaps Peter’s declaration was a true moment of Isaiah-like revelation, when Peter sees the shabbiness of his own life in the light of Christ’s glory, but it might have been just an ‘evasion’ ploy. After all, Peter was standing knee-deep in fish! The catch of a lifetime! His biggest windfall. The boat full of fish would have cashed out nicely. It would have paid alot of bills, bought some upgrades, provided a few luxuries.The author states, “I think Peter had an inkling – maybe it was sheer gut feeling , or a glint he saw in Jesus’ eye – Jesus had no intention of letting him enjoy it. It was a test. Jesus was about to ‘up the ante’ to find out if Peter loved him more than ‘these’. Follow me, Jesus says.”
Now look at the story in John 21. The risen Jesus is on a beach across from where Peter and his crew are fishing. It’s been a long unproductive night. Jesus hollers to them to drop their net on the other side of the boat. They do. Once more the catch is on. THIS TIME, however, Peter acts in the opposite way: he strips, jumps into the water, and is the first one to show up at Jesus’ side. So much has happened. There’s been three denials. the cross. the death. Life had been so dark for him during that time. So here he is, panting, dripping wet, hoping with everything in him that Jesus will “reissue the call”, that HARD CALL to follow Jesus. Jesus does not disappoint.
Heart change. The same man whose courage gave out and denied Jesus when he saw that cross, went on to give up everything, and spend the rest of his life following Jesus until he was martyred by Nero on an inverted cross (he had protested that he was not worthy to die in the way that Jesus had).
I love being a Christian, following Christ. I love His promises that He will never leave me, that he will guide me, teach me, comfort me. I love that fact that he is patient and good and kind, that he does not hold grudges and that he is loyal and that he always beleives in me and that he always stands his ground defending me. The Bible is full of so much evidence and promises. It seems like the more I read, study, pray, meditate on God’s word, the more there is there. It seems like every year I find new treasures there.
Yes, I love being a follower of Jesus Christ. What he offers me is something I desire more than silver and gold. (Proverbs 13:15).