7/15/2018 – Luke 5:1-11

by admin on July 15, 2018

7/15/2018 – Audio Message

Principles Jesus Taught – 3

Dallas Willard Principle

15 July 2018

Luke 5:1-11


Dallas Willard Principle:  We do not grow through information; we only grow through interaction.


I first met DW some 30 years ago by reading his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines.  It was terribly difficult but it gave the distinct message that dealing with Jesus would be a full time job, if taken seriously.  Dallas made me understand that what passes for Xty for most of us is kindergarten play school. 


Rigorous intellectual reflection, taking seriously that the Kingdom of God was a do-able project, that most of what we called church was really socialization into either an ethnic group or a cultural clique.


Dallas Willard in a very direct way underscored the truth of what Carl Jung said so long ago:  one of the main functions of formalized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.


A few years after this shocking introduction I heard Dallas lecture on the spiritual life of pastors.   It was not pretty.  He said a line that has haunted me ever since:  Am I now living the life I am inviting others towards?     This leaves behind the realms of theology, church polity, doctrine and dogma…..all of them have a place…..but that place is strictly defined by Jesus Christ and the encounter he makes with each one of us.  


For so many of us Xn faith is largely thought of in terms of information about God. Yet for all the information we know about the divine, how come there’s so much trouble in the world and much of it done at the hands of Xns?   This is nothing new, btw, if you’re ever interested in reading about intrigue, espionage, traitorous friends, backbiting associates, stabbing, killings, murder and mayhem, I would direct you to the history of the formation of the Creed.   But now I digress.


We do not grow through information; we only grow through interaction…interaction with Jesus Christ the living word of God.  How’s that play out?  Let’s consider Jesus invitation to a bunch of guys like us….Luke’s story of the call of the disciples.


 Jesus was the world’s greatest fisherman.  He knew all the tricks of the trade.  This is especially ironic since we believe he was a carpenter by trade.


There is some debate in scholarly circles as to just what kind of fishermen Jesus and the disciples really were.  Evidence points—if your believe Norman MacLean’s A River Runs through It—that Jesus and the guys were fly fishermen—aiming for trout and bass.  It was the proper gentleman’s sport.


I fished as a kid: mostly for carp, bluegill and catfish that sat on the bottom of the murky Tuscarawas River; or the pond out at Timken Park.  I think that might have something to do to why I don’t like catfish nuggets—I can’t even look at catfish in the Kroger’s fish case.


The difference between a fisherman and a wanna be is that you’ve got to catch fish.


That morning on the Lake of Gennesaret, Simon Peter and the boys were docking empty handed from the night’s work.  They had all the right equipment, read the right books, sported those new shirts from Cabalas—but no fish.


Simon knew that empty nets are just part of the job.  But by the end of this morning, he, the guys, and the job would never be the same—ever.


Anybody here like to fish?  Of course, you didn’t come here today to learn about Christian fly-tying.  But may I ask—do you expect to leave here the same way you came in?


The same way:  attitudes about life; perspectives about yourself and others; thoughts about the meaning of the daily grind, your explanatory style of life.


It’s intriguing to me that from the very beginning the church has used the picture of fishing as its vital self understanding—its vision of something beyond itself.  We call this vision: The God Life.  Living with Jesus.  Growing in Christ.  And, we invite others to join in to experience a spirituality we’ve never known outside of the Xn faith.  This is real fishing.  Early Xn symbolà fish à  JC Son of God Savior. 


. I don’t have a lecture about God prepared.  I don’t want to give you religious info.  But I would like for us to be nudged closer to God; closer to Jesus, closer to a vision so revolutionary that it will knock  your socks off; turn the world upside-down.  St. Luke weaves together three pieces that give us the clues.


  1. After a very unsuccessful night Jesus invites Simon to consider casting his net someplace else.  Go out to the deep waters—where the fish are.  Novel idea.


The deep.   Bathos….Bath.  Deep is the depths of life.  It’s the place where we all live..some of us more intensely than others.  Underneath our smiles and warm award winning personalities. Confident handshakes—are cares, worries, anxieties, fears, and concerns, even joys, which cause us to toss and turn and buy Rol-Aids by the case. 


Yesterday Karen and I had lunch with a couple of buddies and their wives.  We are all counselors in trade.  Eventually the conversation got around to “what is happening in our world today?”  Problems seem to be larger, more troublesome, tribal, deeper ramifications.  Somebody askedà do you think we are getting dumber?   I don’t know about dumber, but certainly more anxious, uptight, unable to figure out life’s curve balls.   Murray Bowen calls it: societal regression.  In these times we live in a world that’s more uneasy all the time.  Do we have the life skills to manage it? 


Jesus told Simon—go out there.  Because when you go there God will meet you.  God is where people really are and there in the deep—down in the dark recesses of every soul there a miracle happens.


The miracle isn’t the overloaded net—that’s a spectacle.  The miracle is that in a moment of self-realization, SP has a fix on his inner self and he doesn’t like it one bit.  “Get away from me…I can’t handle this holiness…leave me to myself.”

Our take on that: I’m a mess and you wouldn’t like me if you really knew me.


The real miracle is that Jesus pushes Simon’s perspective away.  In Jesus’ eye sin does not disqualify anyone for the holy work of God.  (world upside down)


  1. Simon began the day as a fisherman; he ended the day as a fisher for men and women.  “From now on…..” you will be fishing for people. 


Gk:  capturing alive. 

In fishing lingo: use the bait the fish like.   Capture people’s imagination and God will capture their hearts and wills.  This is exactly what happened to Simon himself—Jesus cast the line and reeled him in. 


Direct implication is that church is called and gifted to be the singular place in our culture for answers to life’s really difficult questions.  It’s the place to hear about direction in our lives; to experience comfort for distress; and to know first hand the acceptance of yourself, in spite of your own self-critique. 


From now on….Jesus said.  You will capturing alive men and women.  We all have a lifetime ahead of us after noon today.  How will be spending it?  God can and will change the course of our lives if we ask him.


  1. They left everything and followed him.  They followed Jesus.  Literally.  This is Nova’s marching orders:  follow that man.  Go where he goes, do what he does, see what he sees.  That is why 1st century Xty—The Way.  Only through interaction can we grow.   When we read the Gospels we discover that Jesus does not give out tid-bits about God…..he only invites into relationship.


But you can’t get that in a one hour fix once a week, much less once a month. Friendships with strong and growing Xns are necessary so is prayer, Bible reading, works of love.  It is about crafting your soul.


Dallas Willard calls this the renovation of the heart:  he says, “Jesus led a revolution.”

This gospel is finally not a fish story.  Nor merely a wonder story.  The stupendous catch of fish is only the opportunity for a greater wonder in the story.  Suddenly the nets ripping with fish and the sinking boat fades from view and the story focuses on SP’s vision of faith and the call to discipleship.  Or is it: Nova’s vision of faith and our call to discipleship?


From now on they followed Jesus.  It is true that you can’t follow anybody when you’re glued to that Lazy-boy and guzzling Bud Lite.  (less carbs they say)


In an intriguing twist the NT has no noun for following Jesus.  Xty has no concept of discipleship: no “I am a disciple” or “I’m a follower.”  There is only an action, a verb.  Following Jesus; discipling after him.


It’s like fishing.  You can have all the right equipment: hooks, flies, rods, shirts, read all the right books….have the nicest building in town…but you’re not fishing until you got fish. 


Right now Nova has a fishing line in the water.  Are you in there with us?  That line, of course, is searching for the only true line of life—JC.  He is there for us…for you.  And we can make today that “from now on” moment in our lives if we only follow him.


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