Read: Luke 5
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” (Luke 5:8, NLT)
What was it that Jesus saw in Peter? What attracted the Lord to this coarse fisherman? Peter was crude, sometimes rude, usually inconsistent, and short-tempered. He had the habit of speaking before he thought, and as a result, on more than one occasion, Jesus had to clean up Peter’s mess. Yet there was something in this flawed fisherman that the Lord admired; the basic raw material that he could use to mold Peter from a “little pebble” into a “solid rock” (Matthew 16:17-19)—the take charge kind of guy who would become the first leader-preacher-spokesman for Christ’s church. (Acts 2:14-40)
What did Jesus love about Peter? I think it was Peter’s healthy view of his own unspirituality. Peter was a sinner—and he knew it! He didn’t try to hide his flaws, he didn’t think and act like his was hot stuff, he didn’t treat others like he was better than they were—God’s gift to humankind. No, Peter’s reaction in Luke 5:8 to his first encounter with Jesus says it all: Peter was a fallen, flawed, dirty-rotten, unworthy sinner—and he knew it.
That is called humility, by the way, and it is something that is quite precious to God. In fact, in Peter’s own words, written decades later, we learn that God finds our humility irresistible:
“And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God opposes the proud but favors the humble.’” (I Peter 5:5)
Contrast that with the arrogant Pharisees that Jesus encountered throughout Luke 5. These prideful leaders were upset with Jesus because he was neither giving them their dues nor doing things according to their methods. Most revealing was their reaction to the calling of Matthew and the subsequent dinner party for his tax-collecting ilk at his home:
But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” (Luke 5:30, NLT)
Jesus’ answer was classic, and it, too, was quite revealing: “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” (Luke 5:31-31, NLT)
In other words, when God finds people with a right understanding of their own desperate spiritual condition, he has found the stuff upon which he can build. Perhaps that is the most basic and the very best building material—the “solid rocks”, if you will—upon which Jesus can build his church. (Matthew 16:18, NLT)
That is what we might call healthy unspirituality—an accurate view of one’s utter helplessness and complete unworthiness before God—and God can use that!
“If pride turned some of the angels into demons, then humility can doubtless make angels out of demons.” ~John Climacus
What If God Took Over?
Pray this simple prayer of humility from Psalm 139:23-24, if you dare: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”