I was sitting here cleaning up my desk and listening to a sermon when suddenly I heard something I’ve heard a gazillion times since my childhood, and yet, it was still brand new.
“and I will make you fishers of men.”
And the proverbial light bulb came on.
Suddenly it’s another one of those ah ha! or oh duh! moments.
Here’s the exchange as written in the NKJV in Matthew 4:18,19
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
yeah.. so… He was turning them from men who caught fish, to men to who’d catch men. That’s frankly all the insight I had my whole life. But today, it looks and sounds different.
I found this version of the verse in the NLT:
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”
These were fishermen by trade, well versed in the art of catching fish. They knew when to go out, where to cast their nets, when to catch their nets, and when to pull them in. I don’t know if they used bait, but they would have learned that too, as well as when to pull the nets in, and when to call it a day, or night.
For three years then, Jesus taught them how to fish for souls. Ooooooohhhhh! This soul winning thing, is not just about seeing how many we can ‘catch’ as if vying for some prize or notches on our belt. It is about revealing the heart and love of the Father and the Savior to all mankind – to each person.
But just like in fishing, you cannot reach every person in one set way. We are all individuals, none of us alike. God knows this, it is good, and it is ok – He made us that way. And likewise, the path we each travel is as individual as we are. We may cross paths and experience similar things along the way, but how we get from start to finish is unique to everyone of us. So is God’s method of reaching us. He knows us better than anyone, including ourselves, and He knows what it will take to catch our attention, and hopefully our affection. Yes, we still have a choice, He gave us free will to choose or to deny.
So, maybe it’s time (even if this is only for me) to look at a new way to ‘do’ evangelism. We are so humanly great at categorizing things and containing them to some sort of box – call it a doctrine, a method, a theology… whatever. But this has not, and does not work. If we are serious about seeing this ‘greatest harvest of all time come in’, we need to rethink about our harvesting tools.
Lets go back to fishing!
I think it’s flounder, that you put your weight on your line – a think a little heavier line given the rougher waters – and we used live minnows for bait. Once that minnow was no longer living… it was of no use for bait. Then we cast it out, and trolled on down the water way nice and slow… and waited and let the minnow do it’s work. Now these here flounders, they didn’t just come on up and swallow that bait hook line and sinker. No, they’d just nibble their way on up that bait from tail forward. You’d just have to sit there PATIENTLY, feeling the line and waiting for the moment you felt that tug that was more than just a bouncing, and then quickly but gently pull back the rod to set the hook. You knew instantly, if there was no resistance after that, you’d lost your prize. Otherwise, you just start reeling it in.
Then there’s bass I think. Now them there big mouths, they’ll come on up and take the whole thing, but you can still miss it on settin the hook, and come up empty.
Trout, they like those flashy bugs that glow in the dark (that turn into fireflies), but again.. there’s an art to it. Speaking of an art, did you ever watch the fly fishermen? They take this tiny light weight thing (the fly), work it on out over the water, then gently reel it in, along with some jiggles and such to catch a fish’s attention. Oh, and trying to pop that little bait right on over where the fish is believed to be swimming.
Nowadays, for the deeper waters, many boaters have depth finders that bleep when schools of fish are underneath, taking out some of the guess work, and giving them an advantage to reaching the deeper water swimming guys.
Some fish feed in the morning, some fish feed at night. Some feed near the top of the water, some at the very bottom. Some like live bait, some go for the flashy commotion causing lures and other run from them. And so on…
OH! And fishermen, really good fishermen, are probably the most patient men on the planet!!!
Fishing for souls is like fishing for fish. Some need the fiery preacher to speak truth that slashes through the darkness, tearing down strongholds, and exposes the lies we’ve live and bring us to a place of coming toward the One who died that we might live. Some of us, need a friend first; one who’ll walk with us, get to know us, and build a foundation of trust, living out the walk even before talking the talk. Relationship builds an avenue into and often the ‘authority’ to speak into one’s life, enabling their voice to be heard. And if you’re walking out everyday what you’re speaking, your life lived will be louder than your words.
Some need the ‘now’ Word of God, perhaps their time is short – obedience to His Voice is always a must. Some need the encounters through His manifestation of signs, wonders and miracles. Some are brought in through a fresh Rhema word, straight from the Father’s heart, that reaches into one’s depths, proving that they are neither alone or forgotten and are loved. Some are in need of great healing – sometimes from wounds collected in a church.
Sometimes, it is the invite to come along to church, for the one who is searching, and doesn’t know what for. HE does have a way of breaking through. Maybe it is a coat, or a hot meal, or a house built on a mission trip. Maybe it the kind smile or a hug that will reach that place of need, and open up a heart to hear what He wants to say.
The question I guess is, are we willing to take the time, to look at people, see them through His eyes and His heart, and fish according to His leading? And not judge another for his or her methods or lack of in reaching souls for Him? There is not one of us, who call ourselves followers of Christ, who is unqualified to reach at least one for the one we serve and call our Lord and Friend. We each have been giving something, some avenue, some insight, some gift – something that someone else needs, in order to open up the window to reveal the Love of Jesus, whether it be in action or word or both.
It’s always about Him. It’s always about revealing His heart of love that caused Him to come and give Himself over into the hands of men, suffer and die upon a cross, in order to open back up the way for Pappa’s children to come home, to His heart, for eternity.
And as a dear departed friend used to tell us, eternity starts now…