It’s tough to be humble in our world today.
There is so much pressure to be assertive (even aggressive), confident (even arrogant), proactive (even offensive). If we show any signs of deference, if we ever claim we aren’t sure of something, if we back-down to anyone for anything, we are seen as weak.
There is also so much information at our fingertips… its hard NOT to think we know everything and can achieve and succeed independently. There are countless websites, blogs, articles, news outlets, videos, and social media posts that empower us to self-assess, self-diagnose, self-treat, self-train, self-invest, self-motivate, and on and on and on.
Put these two things together and we have part of the recipe for the stubbornness, pride, polarization, and conflict that is in our culture today. Often, we think we are the best, we act like we are always right, and we live as if we are independently as good as (if not better) than everyone else.
These streaks in our culture make it very hard to take the first step in the Christian faith: surrender. We have to surrender our lives to Jesus. One of the hardest things in life is giving up control. We think we can do better for ourselves than anyone else can. But Jesus is the only one who can really lead us to become the person God planned for us to be. To follow Jesus means giving Jesus control of our lives.
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)
Notice how Simon, an expert fisherman, seems to teeter on the verge of denying Jesus’ request to “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon had fished all night and caught nothing… if he didn’t catch anything all night long, surely it was unlikely that they would catch anything at Jesus’ direction.
But, lo and behold, after ‘deferring’ his professional opinion and his expert analysis, Simon ‘complies’ with Jesus’ request and opens himself to be amazed by Jesus’ miracle: they come in with nets bursting with fish! Then, Simon Peter, in awe, amazement, and fear, ‘concedes’ to Jesus as one would in the company of someone of significance and power, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
What is Simon Peter to do? What about James and John? In the presence of this Jesus they can see a whole new life opening up before them. A life that they are not in control of. A life in service to Jesus as Lord. When Jesus says the words: “do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people,” they leave everything and surrender their lives to Jesus.
What will it take for us to do the same?