Was Peter Insane?

fishingYou probably have heard the Einstein quote about insanity,

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

–Albert Einstein

This is often rolled out and quoted by those who consider themselves change agents. But is Einstein’s statement true? I would have expected a scientist, especially of Einstein’s stature, to consider the role of variables in his equation.

Some experiments in a lab can control the variables, but in real life there are almost always variables. Change agents should realize this.

For example, Peter was tempted to think this way long before Einstein appeared on the scene. In Luke 5 we find that Peter had been out fishing on the sea of Galilee all night long. He was no disinterested fisherman. Fishing provided his livelihood. He was an experienced fisherman.

On this particular morning, Peter was washing his nets after the fruitless night. Hours at work. No fish. Along came Jesus who borrowed his boat for a platform from which to preach to the swelling crowd. After the sermon, Jesus told Peter to take the boat out into deep water and to let down his nets for a catch.

Notice that Jesus assured Peter of success. He didn’t merely say to let down his nets, but to let down his nets for a catch (Luke 5:4).

Peter’s response was very telling. The first part came from the lips of a tired, frustrated man, Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! (Luke 5:5a). Two things stood out in Peter’s frazzled brain. They had toiled or labored hard. And they had taken nothing. A worker has a general expectation that when he labors, he will reap the rewards of his efforts. But Peter had struck out. He had nothing but weary bones to show for his work. He would have caught just as many fish had he stayed home and slept all night. Surely, we can understand this mentality.

But that was not the only thing Peter spoke. He immediately followed up with these amazing words of faith, But at your word I will let down the nets (Luke 5:5b). He would do what physically he did not want to do simply because Jesus had said to do it. That is a beautiful picture of faith. Hearing the word of God and obeying it – even when it doesn’t make sense.

If Peter had lived during our time, he surely would have thought that this was insane. Had not Jesus heard of Einstein’s definition? He had let down his nets over and over and caught nothing. Why would this time be any different. The difference was in the variable. This time Peter would be letting down his nets at the word of the Lord. He had already been guaranteed success. In fact, Peter further strengthened his faith statement by calling Jesus by the title Master.

If we recognize Jesus as our master and if we listen to his word, we are guaranteed success when we obey in faith. For example, the evangelist and missionary can have confidence in their work since God has declared that he has called men from every nation and every tongue.

Our actions may seem like insanity to a world that does not hear nor respond to the word of the Lord. That’s okay. They are working with a faulty definition. Don’t make the same mistake.