- Last Updated on 02:00 PM 06/20/13
- BY DR. RUSSELL LEE
I don’t think it was an accident that Jesus’ favorite disciples were fishermen. They had spent their whole lives training to be fishers of men and thought until then they were just catching fish.
Jesus told them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The church has been in the fishing business ever since.
There are countless stories among fishermen about the huge fish pulled in. There seem to be more, countless more, about the one that got away.
So what is the secret of fishing? One secret is to have something that the fish wants, that he cannot do without. It is often shiny, sometimes smelly, sometimes fluffy, but it is valuable to the fish at that moment. It goes by the moniker of bait.
The story goes that Mark Twain loved to go fishing, but he hated to catch fish. The problem was he went fishing to relax, and catching fish ruined his relaxation, since he had to take the fish off the hook and do something with it. When he wanted to relax by doing nothing, people thought he was lazy, but if he went fishing he could relax all he wanted. People would see him sitting by the river bank, and they would say, “Look, he’s fishing, don’t bother him.” So Mark Twain had the perfect solution: he would take a fishing pole, line, and a bobber, but he wouldn’t put a hook on the end. He would cast the bobber in the water and lay back on the bank. That way he could relax all he wanted, and he would be bothered neither by man nor fish.
That’s funny right there! But are we not as the church sometimes just as foolish as Mark Twain?
We will capitalize the letter f in the spiritual Fishing from now on.
Do we not spend our time relaxing and not talking to people about the amazing adventure of Fishing?
Many churches, even in rural areas, are very serious about their Fishing, and have amazing results. Churches in countries, who know that faith is vital to them, are compelled to share the Gospel by the Savior who continues to call them to their nets. Christians in dangerous and atheistic countries are growing by leaps and bounds because they know that people must be caught for Christ because death for many may be just around the corner.
But here in America, we have gone from Fishing to fish-watching. That’s a nice pastime, but not what Jesus calls us to do!
Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopalian bishop, summed up the situation this way: “In the Great Commission the Lord has called us to be — like Peter — Fishers of men. We’ve turned the commission around so that we have become merely keepers of the aquarium. Occasionally I take some fish out of your fishbowl and put them into mine, and you do the same with my bowl. But we’re all tending the same fish.”
Here’s another way to put it. When was the last time you introduced someone to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior? When was the last time you asked someone to go Fishing with you?
One of our newest members spoke of his former pastor who is an evangelist. He asks almost every person he encountered, at the very beginning of the conversation, very simple question. “Do you know Jesus?”
Not everyone is an evangelist. But we are by our very nature Fishermen.
How do we do it, you may ask? By holding up Jesus and focusing less on ourselves.
A hiker watched an old man trout-fishing, pulling them out one after another briskly. “You manage it cleverly, old friend,” he said. “I have passed a good many below who don’t seem to be doing anything.” The old man lifted himself up and stuck his rod in the ground. “Well, you see, sir, there be three rules for trout-fishing, and ‘tis no good trying if you don’t mind them. The first is, Keep yourself out of sight; and the second is, Keep yourself further out of sight: and the third is, Keep yourself still out of sight. Then you’ll do it.” Good for catching men, too!~Mark Guy Pearse
Yes, the same Jesus who calls us to Fish is the one who will use us to gather new fish in his nets. We are not to sit in the boat and Fish without bait. We should not sit on the bank and while away the hours wondering about all manner of things.
The most important thing we must do is to Fish. People’s lives, their eternities, depend on that simple action.
The best fishing stories are about new fish who become fishermen along with us. Some are hard to catch. Others even jump in the boat!
Jesus spends a lot of time in the boat with his disciples. But the most wonderful times are when they are in the boat, and he from outside it helps them with a miraculous catch.