“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
This passage caught my interest because I think each of us reads it thinking that we ourselves and those who think, act, look like us are the righteous and everyone else is the wicked.
If we look at this passage in conjunction with the next one it gets even more interesting:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We quote the first part of this passage often but we kind of ignore the second part. We talk about judge not lest ye be judged but that statement changes when you add the part about you will be judged with the same measure you used, I don’t know about you, but that part makes me a little nervous because in my head, I can get pretty judgy and if I stop and think about it, I seriously pray that God will be a little easier on me than I am on myself and others.
By the same token, when the net is lifted, I pray that I am one of the righteous (NOT self righteous!) And even if all this talk about judgement and separating the fish makes me uncomfortable, I also remember that God is the most patient of fishermen. 2 Peter 3:9 says The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Here is one thing I believe is true. If Jesus had judged us the way we judge each other, we might be looking at different ending. But He saw beyond our pettiness, he saw behind the eye that was covered up by the log, deeper than the superficial part of the heart that made the cruel judgement of a brother or sister to the child of God that is hiding behind all that stuff and that child, precious ones, is who He died for. We have within all of us, the ability to be either the worst or the best and during these troubled times there will be many opportunities to choose to be kingdom children.
Father, I pray for the ability to see beyond the outside. I pray to see beyond the outer shell, to see your child inside. I pray to better show the grace that you have extended to me. I ask that you remind me that when I am certain I understand you – that is the very time you will surprise me. Help me to stay open to those surprises and the joy that comes from staying near to you.