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Jesus is walking along and he sees two fishermen. He calls them. Next, he sees two brothers mending their nets. He calls them too. Why net menders? When a fisherman raises his net, the fish squirm inside. While it appears they are wiggling around in the net, what they are really doing is taking their sharp fins and sawing a hole in the bottom of the net. All it takes is a small tear and those fish will slip out. What good is it to catch fish only to lose them while you are hauling them aboard? That is why Jesus seeks out two sets of skills: catching fish and mending nets.
After Paul founded the church at Corinth, he moved to Ephesus. After three years, he decided to return to Corinth to visit this community. When he arrived he found that visitors from out of town had turned the people against Paul. One member insulted Paul, others humiliated or ignored him. Paul had to cut his visit short. He returned to Ephesus. There he wrote a letter to the Corinthians that he called the “Letter of Tears” because he was devastated that the church he had founded rejected and disrespected him. He gave the letter to Titus to deliver. Paul had intended to establish another church, but he was too emotionally paralyzed from the experience at Corinth. When Titus finally returned to Ephesus, he learned that the Corinthians were very sorry they wished to be reconciled. Paul was so happy to hear this news that he wrote a letter to them. That letter today is known as the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians. In it he tells us we all make mistakes; we are all flawed. It is also true that we are fragile, and we get hurt easily.
I once knew two fishermen who were best friends. They traveled together all over to fish. They had an argument and they have never spoken to each other since. You would think after the passage of time they would heal, bury their grievances, and go out and catch more fish. Yet, sometimes the hurt is so great that we can never be reunited. It is very hard to reconcile.
With God it is otherwise. It is easy to reconcile with God because God is humble, merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness, full of compassion. Because God has all those attributes, He makes it easy to overcome any hurt or separation that may exist because of our sins and offenses. If only we could have some of that divine goodness in us, then we also would be able to overcome any fracture or tear in our relationship with others. Paul explains to us that in the Holy Spirit, we have everything we need to be able to reconcile with each other. We just have to live it out in the Spirit of God.
The bottom of the net is the weakest and most vulnerable point because all the weight and pressure is directed at that point. Yet, after the net is mended, the bottom of the net becomes the strongest part. The church needs two sets of skills, the fisherman’s to draw in believers, and the net mender’s to make sure we do not lose anyone. God gives us everything we need to mend our wounds. We can live in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who makes all things new.