Growing up, I always loved going fishing. My father took me at a young age and I have many pictures of when I was a young boy, out fishing in the pond behind our house. My grandfather was actually a championship fly fisherman and even owned his own bait & tackle shop for many years, building his own rods selling internationally. I grew up around fishing. I remember learning to tie my first fishing knot. I recall going out to fish in saltwater that first time. I have many fond memories and even now, when given the time, still love to fish. One thing about fishing though…in order to catch a fish (regardless of size or type), you have to actually go out and FISH! You have to drop a line in the water…
Picture this scene with me for a moment. It’s a crisp Saturday morning on the lake shore, and a huge fishing tournament is about to take place. There are fishermen from all over different parts, coming in with all types of fancy equipment, the latest rods & reels, boats of all sizes and egos to match. Many of these fisherman talk a big game. Oh and they sure know all about where to fish, how to fish, what to use and not to use, when to go, the right weather and on and on. These guys know their stuff and they tend to get in to debates with each other about who is right and who knows more!
The time draws near for the tournament to start and each guy takes his place (or gal…no PC bias here). Guys get their gear ready and search for the best areas. The moment is at hand. The whistle blows! The tournament has begun! …only, something is a bit amiss. Something is just a tad off what you would expect. Of all these great fisherman on hand, none is actually fishing. They are either spending time sorting their lures and bait or still talking about how they know so much about fishing. Some are even all dressed up in fishing garb and are walking briskly by the water. Others are just cruising around in their boats with their rods and tackle but no fishing. When asked what they are doing and why they are not fishing, one of them responds, “Well I don’t actually fish you see. Typically I can just walk near the lake and the fish can see me walking by and…well, they know I’m a fisherman and eventually they will jump out of the water and come to me.” Another one answers, “Oh I don’t actually go fish. I usually let others do that-those who are born to be fisherman. But I will say they don’t typically do it right. They should do it they way I would do it…”. Now…is it only me, or does that just seem plain ‘fishy’ to anyone else???
It’s quite obvious, even to an ignorant passer-by that, if you want to catch a fish, you need to…well, FISH!
In the Gospel of Matthew, early in Jesus’ ministry, He was gathering His various disciples to Him. He first approached Peter and his brother Andrew and then the brothers John and James.
18 One day Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee when He saw Simon (also called Peter) and Andrew throwing their nets into the water. They were, of course, fishermen.
19 Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
20 Immediately Peter and Andrew left their fishnets and followed Jesus.
21 Going on from there, Jesus saw two more brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They, too, were fishermen. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee getting their nets ready to fish. Jesus summoned them, just as He had called to Peter and Andrew, 22 and immediately they left their boat and their father to follow Jesus.
(Matt 4:18-22/ The Voice)
Here we see Jesus calling them, not just to be fishers of fish but fishers of men! Herein lies much of the essence of what it actually means to be a Christian.
The other night at my small men’s study, we were discussing this amongst ourselves-the importance of being a ‘fisher of men’. Fishing for men, is in truth, evangelizing the lost world unto salvation in Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus did. That is what Jesus taught His disciples to do. They in turn taught the church to do this and on and on we go down through the ages. Our group also discussed the topic of evangelizing and touched on different methods and approaches in doing so. The one consensus we came to was that although there are many different means and methods, the single biggest aspect is that you have to actually drop your line in the water and…well, FISH!
As we were closing in prayer, my mind began to race about the many ways to fish. I thought about the guy who uses just a plastic worm. Or the guy who prefers to use a top water or spinner lure. One can also use live bait and a bobber…or just bottom fish with bread. You could even use a casting net, as the disciples did. Or there is EVEN the guy who chooses to throw a stick of dynamite into the water and knock out a bunch of fish all at one time!! The point is, there are many different types of ways to fish and typically, the method is determined by the type of fish, the location, the situation and so on. There is no one way to go about it. BUT…YOU MUST ACTUALLY FISH IF YOU WANT TO CATCH FISH!
Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men. He has also called us to be fishers of men. Calling oneself a Christian, yet not doing the very thing Jesus instructed His followers to do, doesn’t sound like much of a Christian to me. Back some 20 years ago when I was in High School, kids had a word for that: A poser. A poser was one who wanted to appear to be something (surfer, skater, jock, prep, etc.) but wasn’t really one at heart-they only dressed the part and tried to hang out with others who actually did those things they desired to do. Matthew 7:21 states:
21 Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven. Simply calling Me “Lord” will not be enough. Only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven will join Me in heaven.
Are we fishers of men? Are we doing what Jesus called us to do? He saved us, not just to stay to ourselves and live in a bubble. No. He saved us and changed us through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to catch other men, so they might also be saved. He saved us to save others. It’s not enough just to walk close to the water, like those crazy fishermen did in the initial story. It seems crazy in the light of such an example, but how many of us do that very thing on a day to day basis. We just hang around the water of our job or the pools of our families and unsaved friends, hoping others will notice we are fisherman, jumping on shore for us to catch. How many of never open our mouths, never dropping our line into the water to actually fish?
WE ARE CALLED TO BE FISHERS OF MEN! We are called to go into all the world, to preach the Gospel to every creature, to make disciples of all nations! WE ARE CALLED! WE ARE EMPOWERED BY GOD HIMSELF!! WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED TO DO SO! His Word. His Spirit. His call! Regardless of bad weather or good, rain or shine…
…Now let’s get off the shore and…GO FISH!
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. …20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:15-16,20/ NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”’(Matt 28:19-20/ NIV)