Building Community: Fishing Nets and Campfires PT2

01 July 2022 | Reflections | Anthony & Dawn

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”… “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.

When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. (John 21:1-13)

Read Part 1.

The bible records numerous instances where Jesus’ met his people in hospitality. Who Jesus invited around the table or campfire was as distinctive as how often he conducted ministry there. He met with people from many different walks of life with an ever present risk of spoiling his reputation:

The Son of Man feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ (Luke 7:34)

At Jesus’ campfire everyone is welcome to come as they are but are also guaranteed to leave transformed. This is a distinguishing characteristic of Christianity that is both inclusive and transformative. When we come to Jesus’ table we are not a finished work. Paul expresses this in his letter to the Corinthians:

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

As we have considered the life of Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter, we have witnessed the kind of transformation that Jesus promised. In John 21, we are privy to a moment of intimacy between Peter and Jesus, during which Peter received significant healing and reconciliation.

Jesus famously questioned Peter by asking, “Do you love me?” This question strikes at the core. What do we love the most? Are we willing to forsake all to follow Jesus? Every time we face a temptation, this question arises. This question arises whenever we become preoccupied with even the excellent things God gives us. But Jesus did not stop there; he also commissioned Peter to tend and feed Jesus’ sheep with a sense of urgency. Through his love for Jesus, Peter was completely equipped to do the mission God invites him to. Jesus gathered his disciples around the campfire in an act of intimacy and transformation. Then he sent them out.

If you love Jesus, then feed his sheep, put on a banquet for them:

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Luke 14:12-14)

Life around the campfire By Dawn

In Mark chapter 5 Jesus and the disciples arrive on the other side of the sea of Galilee. When the disciples arrive there, they are already overwhelmed because on the journey they had genuinely felt as though they were going to die in an awful storm. But Jesus had brought them back from what seemed like the brink of death: He spoke to the wind and the waves and they were still. The disciples were terrified (Mark 4:41).

In Mark 5 the disciples once again witness Jesus bringing life into a situation that is close to death. And once again those who witness it are terrified (Mark 5:15). This time death was represented by an uncontrollable man, filled with impure spirits, who lived among tombs, and who cut himself with sharp stones. Once again Jesus brought life back by speaking but this time His words were, ‘What is your name?’

At a recent Christians Against Poverty conference there was a panel of people who work on a daily basis with those most affected by poverty. The panel explained how poverty is much broader than financial. As the people on the panel spoke this phrase struck me:

‘Poverty looks like premature ageing…poverty looks like death’

In the stories in Mark 4 and Mark 5 it is Jesus who brings life into situations that look close to death; but in both stories the disciples are there to witness it. It is not our place as Christians to bring new life into situations that might look close to death, but we can and should join with Jesus in His work as we follow Jesus.

As we seek to open a job club, we at Dunfermline West, will be partnering with Jesus, seeking to love and to come alongside those who are struggling to find work by giving them practical tools to help them. Some of these people may be very different to ourselves in outlook and values, but we can get to know them on their terms: ‘What is your name?’

Although the job club itself will be a campfire at which people can encounter Jesus and be transformed, we can also create other campfire opportunities for Jesus to meet people just where they are, and in language and symbols that they might understand. For this reason, we may create new groups. We will also aim to run the job club so that it finishes when our Wednesday evening reflective service begins. This creates an opportunity for any job club members who might wish to do so, to stay on as we meet together with Jesus.

What to expect

Find Us

Dunfermline West Baptist Church
Chalmers Street, Dunfermline
KY12 8DG