thinking theology

IMG_0039A Fish, a Net, a Boat and a Fisher is what I have been thinking about this week. It began when I noticed a post on Facebook suggesting that in reality, the universe might be a computer simulation.The South American writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once wrote a short story called The Circular Ruins, in which a man creates a world for himself, only to discover that he himself may be a dream, and not only the dreamer. Inner and outer, self and others are not as distinct as we would like to believe. Every act changes the world to a greater or lesser degree, and we are also thereby changed.

In Acts 9:1-9, Saul is challenged to look inward to understand himself. When he is blind, he begins to see that not only has he behaved violently towards others, he has injured himself. His healing will be at the hands of his enemies. His safety will be ensured by those whom he would have harmed. Similarly in John, Peter’s betrayal of Jesus is echoed in the demand for his faithfulness.

We tend to hear these narratives in a linear fashion, but what if we think about them in a circular, or metaphorical way. Both Saul and Peter are fish, caught, transformed, renamed and repurposed. And their new purpose is to catch others like themselves, not the righteous, not the good, but traitors, raging persecutors, bigots and murderers. As they face how they have behaved, they become the ones who will cast their nets over the sea in search of other unlikely fish. And the net they throw is the net of their own sin and sorrow, their complicity in betrayal, and their new found faith in the power forgiveness to transform lives. But they need a boat in which to travel. For today, I am thinking of that boat as their surprise at the love of God that will transport to places and situations that would have been unimaginable, and finally to a death that they could have avoided if they had never encountered the resurrected Christ.

Our ministry in the world arises from awareness of our own shortcomings. The very thing that shames us has the power to make us more understanding, more forgiving, clearer about what we see. First we have to meet Jesus and be fed so that we can be fish for others.

Incarnation demands that we understand us as all together in one place, in one life, in one moment which is made into heaven or hell by our decisions. One thief mocks Jesus from the cross; the other prays to him. Which will be our choice: to be blinded so that we can see; to be humbled so that we can serve, to die so that we can live? Jesus says feed my lambs and he feeds us, the followers of the incarnation of love.

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