Reading: Luke 5:1-11
Reflection: It is common, when followers of Jesus seek to share their faith with others, to begin with how sinful we are, and to call people to repentance in order to receive God’s grace. Apart from the challenge this poses to our “salvation by grace” theology – since it makes a prayer of repentance a pre-requisite for receiving grace – this also contradicts much of what we see in Scripture.
In the ministry of Jesus, salvation always works in the opposite direction. Instead of demanding repentance before we receive grace, God often pours out grace on us, which then leads us to become aware of our need to repent. To put it another way, repentance is a response to grace, not a pre-requisite of it.
In today’s reading, Jesus borrows Peter’s boat to preach and then invites him on a fishing trip. Peter, who is skeptical of this carpenter’s knowledge of fishing, tries to talk him out of it, but finally relents. The result is that he and his partners bring in a massive catch of fish. This is a gift of grace which Jesus gives to Peter and his friends.
Notice that there is no prayer, no repentance, no change of behavior in Peter that comes before this. The gift of grace comes first. Then, in response, Peter confesses to Jesus that he is a sinful man and asks Jesus to leave. But Jesus only responds with more grace, calling Peter to share the grace he has just received with others. This is how grace works. We need only receive it. What grace do you need to receive from God today? How can you share that grace with those around you?
Practice for Today: Receiving is not often thought of as a Christian practice, but it is. Sometimes we receive gifts from others and need to learn to receive with grace and appreciation. Sometimes we need to make time to relax, open our hearts and minds, and simply receive grace from God. Stillness and openness are the physical practices that lead us into the spiritual practice of receiving. Why not give this a try today?
Prayer for Today: I receive, with thanks and humility, the amazing, undeserved grace you offer me today, O God.
Communion with Christ “