March 18, 2019
This past December on board a cruise ship sailing between Jamaica and Grand Cayman the crew spotted two stranded mariners who had been drifting in open water for twenty days and rescued them. What makes the rescue so amazing is that the cruise ship was only in that area because of bad weather on their scheduled course. The crew brought them aboard the cruise ship and provided them with water, food and medical attention until they could reunite with their families. Whenever I hear about people who are rescued from such dire situations, I cannot help but wonder about each of them, as individuals. Each of them is a life, a soul, a distinctly different individual who God created. Sometimes such an adventure leads to a new life with new opportunities. When rescued, some people cry and some people laugh, but all are distinctly different in their situation and future.
In the familiar Biblical account of John 21, several of Jesus’ disciples were out in the water in a fishing boat. John 21:1-3, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.” Matthew 8:23-27 says, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” In each case, the men in the boat were different and had individual characteristics. Simon Peter, who the Bible has described as a rugged individualist who had a tendency to give up. Thomas is known as a doubter. James and John were politicians and manipulators. Nathaniel was apparently a very pessimistic person. Each of the others on the boat, were distinctly different as well, but all needed to be rescued.
In any group of believers, whether it be in our homes, at church, at school, or with friends, there will always be people with different personalities, different problems, and different goals and pursuits. A typical group of believers always will have a wide variety within the group. There will be those who work behind the scenes to get the job done. There will be others who are out front, and whose personalities are always noticed. Some will be optimistic, whose glass is half-full and always believe anything can be done, while others are pessimist, whose glass is always half empty, and doubt that it can be done at all. There are people who others want to be around and others that prefer to be alone. The lesson for us is that to get the job done in the ministry of God’s kingdom is not what kind of people are in the boat. The more important considerations are about who is the object of our love and allegiance, and about the common ground we can find with those around us. An important question for us to ask individually is, “Do we love the captain of the boat who came to rescue us?” Remember the conversation Jesus had with Peter in John 21:15-16. “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again, Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” Jesus is the one who we owe our love, and the way we demonstrate our love for Him is the serve Him by ministering to people. The best way we can demonstrate our love for people is to win them to Christ. Jesus instructed his disciples in John 21;6, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” As Christian parents and school educators, we can cast our nets right in our neighborhoods and our classrooms, as well as in our own households. Jesus has promised to give the increase if we will simply be faithful net casters to rescue those we know and serve.
Our commonalities in the boat that we know as FCS are many, even though we know that we all are different and have various spiritual gifts. Our common ground includes that, we are all here, and yes, we are definitely all different. Bu, we all have a job to do, and those jobs are unique to our homes, our classrooms, office, or program. Our love and allegiance to Jesus Christ is our most important similarity and provides the common spirit that allows us all to be in the same boat and yet fulfill our individual responsibilities as we have been gifted by the Lord to do. Finally, we all have, or should have, a love for a lost and dying world. In our daily activity, we need to see our personal family, our students, and our neighbors as someone, who if not in the boat already, need to be rescued before it is too late.
Many people have survived being lost at sea by getting into a boat that came to rescue them. Each one of them did all they could to survive so they could be rescued. For us to be successful in rescuing those who are spiritually lost, we should all be using the unique characteristics and spiritual gifts that we have been given in order to “haul in the net” so that “they” will not perish.