Sunday, May 02, 2010
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19
After returning from a very productive day on the lake, I began to think about Jesus’ statement that he would turn his devoted followers into fishers of people. I find it interesting that Jesus used the occupation of fishing to illustrate how he wanted his ministry to manifest on earth through his people.
As an avid fisherman, it is easy for me to comprehend what Jesus was communicating to his disciples about fishing for people. Every time I go fishing, I remember that three things are crucial to being a successful fisherman.
The first is that you have to keep your line in the water. My nine-year-old son will often get frustrated when he is not catching fish. As he sits in the boat watching me catch fish with his line out of the water complaining that the fish aren’t biting, I remind him sternly that you can’t catch fish unless you have your line in the water. Similarly, you can’t reach people for Jesus unless you engage them in conversation and build a relationship with them. You have to be intentional about relationship building so you can communicate the truth of the gospel of Christ to people.
Second, a good fisherman has to be patient. I have fished for hours without catching a fish. Then, all of a sudden, the fish start biting ferociously. When fishing for people, you can’t expect them to get converted in an instant. It takes time to build a friendship and establish trust, which is vital when sharing Christ with others.
The last key to being a good fisherman is changing baits until you find out what the fish are biting. Sometimes they bite flukes, sometimes they bite crank baits, sometimes they bite top water lures, and sometimes they bite worms. Being familiar with the lake is essential to possessing a better understanding of what the fish like to bite. Similarly, when fishing for people you must continue to pray for them and communicate to them in order to find out more about them. Once you establish common ground with a person, then you can tell them something they know to be true while relating it in a gospel of Christ context.
As you obey the call and command of Jesus to fish for people, take it from a pastor who loves to fish and remember to keep your line in the water (engage people and build a relationship with them), be patient (embrace God’s timing to convert people), and change your bait (keep communicating and praying for people) until you find out what they are biting.
Let’s go fishing!