When you think of the kingdom of God, when you think of the Lord’s calling you to be a part of the life and growth of the church, how do you see it? Do you feel obligation? Do you feel needed? Or do you feel wanted? What, by the way, would be the difference in feeling wanted by God and needed by God in the growth of his kingdom?
In John chapter 21, we see an event take place that is lovely, subtle, and helpful. It shows us the invitation from Jesus to the disciples to join him in ministry. And it shows us that we are wanted, not needed.
If you recall, after Jesus’ resurrection, some of the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. The disciples had no luck that night. In the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, though the disciples were initially unaware that he was there, and miraculously showed them how to catch fish. And then Jesus invited them to breakfast.
John 21:9-12a – 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
Note what the disciples found when they came ashore. Jesus had a fire, fish, and bread. Jesus invited the disciples to come and have breakfast with him and even to bring to the fire some of the fish they had caught because of his direction. But make sure you do not miss the fact that Jesus already had fish.
I believe that we can learn something about our participation in Christian ministry from this picture. Jesus has fish. Jesus will grow his kingdom. Jesus will build his church. He can save people and accomplish all he desires to accomplish with or without us.
Draw some parallels. The disciples fished with their greatest skill all night long, and they caught nothing. Jesus empowered them, and they filled their nets to overflowing. You and I can evangelize and discipline our lives with our greatest skill. But if we are left to ourselves, we can do nothing. But, abiding in Christ, resting in Christ, empowered by Christ, we can be a part of Christ building his own church for his glory.
When the disciples arrived on shore, Christ had his own fish already. He did not need their fish. But he let them bring fish to the fire. In our ministry, Christ does not need our contribution. He is kind to include us in the work. He is gracious to allow us to participate. He allows us to bring to him the fruit of labor that he had to empower for it to show any success. And he welcomes us. He receives our offerings. He draws us into fellowship with himself.
I’ll say it again, God does not need us. That is some of the best news you could ever hear. Your goodness does not impress him. Your failure does not disappoint him. He knew you and what you would be long before he ever saved your soul.
Better than needing us, God wants us. God wants you to participate in his worship and in the growth of his kingdom. God wants you to sit under his word and go and make disciples. God wants you to rely on his power and bring your offerings to him. God wants to embrace you and welcome you into fellowship. God wants to give you the joy of glorifying him, the very joy for which you were created. Jesus already has the fish. But he will welcome you to come and join him with all that you bring by his power.