Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We reclaim the power of nonviolent love

 Matthew 4:18–22

Submitted by Rev. Ginna Bairby

“Follow me,” Jesus says to his disciples, “And I will make you fish for people.”

Reflection: It’s not enough for Jesus that Simon Peter and Andrew become his disciples. That’s a fine start, but he makes it clear from the beginning that he wants them to follow him and then go out and recruit others to follow. To go fishing for people.

Evangelism often gets a bad rap in Presbyterian circles. And to be sure, horrible things have been done in the name of evangelism. But if we follow Jesus, the one who told his disciples he would teach them to fish for people, we can’t kick this thing called evangelism to the curb.

I wonder if it might help to reframe the way we talk about evangelism. After all, Jesus said nothing about “winning souls for Christ.” He talked about following him and discipleship. Those first disciples that Jesus sent out “fishing for people” went out not to tell people a set of beliefs about Jesus that would save them, but to recruit people to the cause of Christ, to invite them to follow Jesus and live according to his teachings.

Jesus still calls us, his disciples, to “fish for people.” To tell people the good news of the Prince of Peace. To invite them to commit themselves to the nonviolent love of Christ and to live in such a way that their lives issue forth peace and reconciliation in the world.

Now that’s an evangelism I can get behind!

Action: Talk to someone today about why you are committed to the work of justice and peace. Include the way your faith impacts your commitment to that work.

Prayer: God of Witness, grant us courage not only to follow you in our own lives but also to “fish for people” and invite others to join us in pursuing the peace you bring. Amen.

Rev. Ginna Bairby is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Taos, New Mexico. Previously, she served for several years with the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries and as a Young Adult Volunteer in Lima, Peru. She is a graduate of the College of William Mary and Union Presbyterian Seminary and is the editor of the book Worldchanging 101 by David LaMotte.

This year’s Path of Peace reflections are based on the Five Affirmations to Guide the Peacemaking Witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Writers were recruited to help us explore the following affirmations as each week of A Season of Peace unfolds:

  1. Peacemaking is essential to our faith.
  2. We have sinned by participating in acts of violence.
  3. We reclaim the power of nonviolent love.
  4. We commit to the study and practice of nonviolence.
  5. We will practice boldly the things that make for peace.

Each author writes Monday–Friday, beginning with the first affirmation and ending with the fifth. The authors represent a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts, and each week presents a new ‘voice’ to walk you through the affirmations. The weekend devotions, written by the editor, also reflect the five affirmations. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 3, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 1.

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