Lately, a lot of people who have been following this Bible reading plan have been talking about the difficulty they've been having with the violence in the Old Testament. Many are also watching the current History Channel's miniseries on the Bible and commenting on its violence. Keep in mind that the Bible isn't Rated G. It deals with the sinful and often brutal human condition, and as such it is full of sexual misconduct, bloodshed, and every other kind of sin imaginable. I don't apologize for the Bible--I simply want to repeat what I said in a recent post, that all of this underscores our need for a Savior.
I have to admit that I have difficulty when I read about Israel's conquest of Canaan. Rather than elaborating on that difficulty, I'll just refer you to a website that discusses the invasion: Click here for an excellent article entitled "The Invasion of Canaan"
In an obvious act of avoidance, I prefer to talk about the New Testament passage of Jesus calling His first disciples. From Luke 5 (ESV):
|Fishermen on the lake of Gennesaret|
Through this story, Jesus teaches us something about discipleship. Many Christians want to bring in a big catch for the Lord. We want to be effective evangelists, powerful prayer warriors, and willing workers for God. All these things are good. But we need to put first things first. When Jesus first called His disciples, He didn't give them a lot of missions to accomplish. He simply asked them to do what they usually did--but now He asked them to do it according to His instructions.
These fishermen knew what they were doing. They were fishermen and Jesus was a carpenter. Yet they were willing to obey Jesus' word and do their business in His way. So too the Lord wants you to grow in discipleship by continuing to do your business--in His way.
Before the disciples were able to bring in a big catch for Jesus, they had to go deeper with Him. Similarly, Christians need to learn how to go deeper in the spirit before they will be able to do great or powerful works. Many Christians rush after a big project, get excited about something new, or commit themselves to some great task--all without being willing to go deeper with Jesus beforehand. But discipleship is about going deeper. The result of a deepening faith and relationship with God is that you will naturally haul in a big catch. But if you go after tons of fish without first letting down your nets into the deep waters of God's spirit, you'll never land anything.
Most folks don't want to go deeper with Jesus because in the process, He will point out your sins and failures. He does this not to condemn you, but to help you turn away from these things and toward His redeeming grace. Peter responded, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” So too we would often rather keep things light and surface-level with Jesus, because we don't want to face our own sin. Or, if we do encounter our own sin, we avoid facing it as Peter did.
Going deeper in discipleship means saying "yes" to Jesus when He asks you to do your business in His way. It involves facing your fears and failures, and finding His will to be better than your own. Jesus tells us the same thing that He told Simon: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Then He calls us to do as the first disciples did--to leave everything and follow Him.