Monday, April 6, 2015

Don't Compare Yourself to Others

After Jesus of Nazareth came back into his mangled body, it changed into an eternally perfect one, though it still bore the marks of his horrible execution. He walked around for 40 days in this body and 500 people saw him. His resurrection and appearance to his followers radically changed them from cowering disappointment to highly motivated evangelism. But that change in his friends apparently did not happen overnight.
Early one morning a little while after he came out of the tomb, he built a fire on the banks of his favorite lake and started roasting some fish and warming a few patties of bread. He had a little camp site all laid out with the aromatic feast just about ready when he called to a boat about 100 yards out in the lake, “Hey, boys, have y’all caught anything?” I am sure they shrugged their shoulders in the universal gesture of bad luck and said, “Nope.” He instructed them to cast the net on the opposite side of the boat and they hauled in 153 nice ones, more than the net was accustomed to handling, but it did not break.
Peter and John, both great professional fishermen, were leading the expedition. Peter had stripped down to handle the nets more efficiently. They did not discern that it was Jesus on the shore calling to them until John said, “It is the Lord.” Suddenly (and curiously) Peter threw his clothes on and jumped into the lake and started swimming towards Jesus. It is possible, I guess, that he thought he could walk the distance on top of the waves since he had done it before, but that was at Jesus’ command. Anyway, he got to Jesus first.
Then the boat arrived and Jesus said, “Bring some of those fish to add to what I already have cooked here and come have breakfast.” Don’t you know that was a great feast, full of joy and joking and thrilling conversation about eternal life and how death has no dominion now! With all those big old fresh fish, I am sure no one left the campfire hungry that morning. Just thinking about it gives me an appetite for roasted fish and bread for breakfast, you know, an outdoorsman’s lox and bagels, as it were. Anyway, the conversation got serious after a while.
Jesus walked along the shore with Peter, John following at a distance. He asked Peter about his love for him, wanting to reinstate him to his position as a close apostle. Remember, he had denied he even knew Jesus to stay out of trouble. Peter assured him of his love and Jesus admonished him to take care of his people and then indicated he would be required to undergo great suffering and death. “What about old John back there?” Peter wanted to know. In effect, Jesus told him it was not his business. Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” has a line that is apropos to this story, “Do not compare yourself to others, for will find those who are not as well off as you and that may make you proud and you will find others that are better off than you and that could make you jealous. Therefore, do not compare yourself to others.”

Good breakfast, great conversation!

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