david herndon


more than a fisherman

So I saw this picture yesterday…

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It is a group of protesters from Westboro Baptist Church protesting outside of a Lorde concert in Kansas City.  You can read the full story here or Google it to see more ridiculous protest signs.

What caught my eye were the WBC protest signs. “God hates lukewarm Christians.”  “God hates sluts.”  “God is your enemy.”  There were worse statements but I will not even give the courtesy of repeating them.  At first I was angry with the protesters because this is not exactly good PR for Christianity.  In the end, however, I found myself feeling sorry for them because this protest shows just how much they misunderstand Jesus.

God hates us?

God is our enemy?

Is that how God would describe himself?

Is that even a good evangelism tactic?

If God hates me for my sin, does he also hate you for your sin?

I find this rule often at work in the world.  What people say about God is really a reflection of what they believe about themselves.  For example, a man may say that God hates another person because he himself feels unloved, or worse…. unlovable.  This belief will ultimately take shape in the way he views and treats others.  Believing he is unloved leads to a life in which God’s love is neither received nor shared.

This man thinks he is just a fisherman.

I finally watched Captain Phillips last weekend (it was incredible).  At one point near the end of the movie Captain Rich Phillips has a conversation with Muse, the Somali pirate leader.  Throughout the movie Muse has struggled with inferiority and repeatedly made the statement that he is “just a fisherman.”  He was never surprised when his plans failed to work out.  He never really believed he could accomplish anything.  He believed he was just a fisherman – not a real pirate.  When Muse  finally realizes that his latest plan will also fail he puts a gun to Rich’s head, and the captain says, “You are more than just a fisherman!”

And Muse puts down the gun.  Its like that’s all he wanted to hear.  He just wanted someone to believe in him, and in some very strange way that is what Captain Phillips was communicating to him.  Despite all of his violence, hate, and anger Captain Phillips still saw potential in Muse.

“You are more than just a fisherman.”

It was as if for the first time in his life Muse realized he could be someone different, someone better.  There is still hope for Muse.

As a full-time minister I have all kinds of conversations with people.  People don’t think they can lead a small group because “I don’t read my bible enough.”  People think they can’t participate in a mission trip because “I’m not generous enough.”  People think struggles arise in their lives because “I’m not a godly person.”  My least favorite is when people say something like, “I’m not a good person like you, David.  You’re a professional Christian.  I’m just a (insert occupation).”  As if somehow your career determines your standing with God.  Trust me – “professional” Christians are just as sinful as anyone else.

People often (and unfairly) think poorly of themselves, and so they just assume that God feels the same way.  Somali pirate, Baptist protester, Pop-star, “professional” Christian – we all live life based on our beliefs about ourselves and about our God.  These beliefs will ultimately take shape in how we view and treat others.  If we believe we are unlovable, then we will live a life in which we neither receive nor share God’s love.

We’re missing out on something different, something better.

Let me be the first to say to you today, “You… are more than just a fisherman.”

There is still hope for the 17 year old pop-star and the WBC protester.  There is still hope for the Somali pirates.  There is still hope for the “professional” minister as well as for the accountants and lawyers.  There is still hope for you.   Zephaniah 3:17 says that God rejoices over you and takes delight in you.  Romans says that we are indeed sinners, but God dies for us so that we don’t have to stay that way.  Jesus personally says in John 15:9 that his love for us is the same as God’s love for him.  There are no conditional clauses attached to these statements.  These promises are not reserved for a select few.

God loves you.  He delights in you.  He pursues you.  He sacrifices for you.  He believes in you.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Now remain in my love (John 15:9).”

Jesus deserves every drop of God’s love.  God sees perfection and hope in him.  There is no shame, no condemnation.  Only worthiness.  And Jesus says that his love for you is the same.  He believes you deserve every drop of His love, that you have perfection and hope in you.  He has no desire to condemn you.  He finds you worthy.

God calls us to believe we are loved because of the simple fact that we are.  He sacrificed for us.  He died for us.  Does that sound like hate to you?

Don’t assume God hates you.  Know that He loves you!

Most importantly, live your life out of that love.

 

 

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