I love the story in Luke 5 of Jesus, Peter and the miraculous catch of fish. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, please allow me to recap:
Jesus has become quite a popular teacher, so much so that crowds of people press around him, making it difficult for him to teach and for others to hear. One day, Jesus is walking by the lake and sees two fishing boats. He walks up to Simon Peter and asks him to row out a little from shore so that Jesus can teach the people without being crowded. Peter agrees, and after he is done teaching, Jesus says to Peter, “Row out a little further and put down your fishing net, you’re going to catch a great number of fish.” Now, Peter and his companions have been fishing all night and they were just cleaning up for the day when Jesus came up to them. A tired, cranky, mildly irritated Peter responds, “Look, your obviously not a fisherman. If you were, you’d know that the fish only come up to where we can catch them during the night. During the day they are too far down for our nets to reach. But I see that you are a teacher, a holy man, so because you say so, I will… again.” Sure enough, Peter catches enough fish that the net starts to break and the boat starts to sink. Peter’s response is absolutely priceless – “Get away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
Jesus doesn’t say anything about Peter’s character or behavior, Jesus doesn’t do anything but bless Peter with extravagent abundance. Jesus turned a fruitless evening into a bounteous affair. It is estimated that the number of fish they caught that day would have been the equivilent of two weeks worth of hard work. And here it is, almost jumping into their boat.
Peter could have expressed any number of emotions: elation, gratitude, joy. Instead, Peter is suddenly aware that he is in God’s crosshairs. He is moved to confess his sin, how he has fallen short. God Almighty has turned his full attention onto Peter in order to bless him and he does so in the midst of Peter’s grumpiness. I think this is a timeless principle for evangelism and a beautiful representation of Father’s heart for his kids.
God Delights in Showing Kindness and Compassion
Jesus chose to reveal to Peter our Father’s nature. He chose to show Peter how kind, gracious and good God was towards him. He chose to not call Peter out for his grumpiness and unbelief – instead, he chose to bless Peter in an extravagent and tangible way. And Peter, confronted with the goodness, kindness, and compassion of God, comes to a place of repentance. He realizes how far away he is from God and feels unworthy of this kind of Love. He understands that his life has not been lived in a way that honors God or responds to the Goodness he has been shown. Like Adam in the Garden, he wants to hide in guilt and shame from the Lover of his soul.
Kindness is part of who God is. It is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It is something that we as Christians should exhibit in growing measure as we go from glory to glory, being conformed and transformed into the character of Christ. Showing kindness to people, genuine and extravagent kindness, is a powerful way of re-presenting our Father to this orphaned planet. The kindness I’m speaking of goes far beyond generic good deeds – they are inspired acts of love. They are extravagent and they are specific. They might looks like roses or prophetic words. They might pop into your head or they might take awhile to plan. Whatever they are, intentional and extravagent acts of love carry with them the power of God to open up hearts to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I don’t want the kindness of God to be a secret we keep from the world. I want everyone, especially the people of my city, to understand that God is kind, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. I want them to know what is feels like to have God’s full attention fixed on them and to know that God isn’t angry with them or disappointed in them. Instead, I want them to understand that He knows them AND loves them. I want them to know that they can’t escape from God’s goodness and mercy. I want them to be confronted with the outrageous extravagence of a God who loves them so much He was willing to die for them. That is the truth of who God is. It is Good News. They really should hear about it.