Satan has been fishing for a long time. His bait has been distracting followers of Jesus from the clear command Jesus gave 2,000 years ago. Sometimes he uses our theological debates: does Jesus save or does man choose? Sometimes he uses our comfort and prosperity: do we really have to go and share when we have this amazing building, talent, and program for people to come and check out. Sometimes he uses our selfishness: isn’t the church meant for my spiritual growth and entertainment? No matter what he has used in our life, it is extremely clear that we have taken his bait…hook, line, and sinker.
Let’s remind ourselves of the words of Jesus.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
This is incredible. Jesus could have used any method of sharing his truth of salvation with this world. In the Bible we find angels, weather, nature, a burning bush, donkeys and many other methods. If he wanted he could have created twitter back in the day. I can see Jesus enjoying some dark roast coffee at the local Jerusalem Starbucks now.
“Repent and believe in me.” @Jesus
Why did Jesus choose to call people to “be fishers of men?” I really don’t think this is an important question. Once again, the time that we would take trying to answer this question would be another distraction that Satan would love for us to pursue. I do believe that he chose to use people because we are his favorite creation and the Gospel is his greatest mission. Combine the two and you intertwine what this world is all about. Why tweet when you can walk with the creation that you love so much? In Christ, he continues to walk with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which could be one of the reasons a lot of followers of Jesus experience very little of the Spirit’s supernatural work. The Spirit comes alive when we “become fishers of men,” not consumers of our Christian subcultures.
Almost a decade ago, I wrote a sermon from Matthew 9 and 10. In summary, Jesus recognizes that the crowds are helpless and in need of him. He declares that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. As you transition into chapter 10, Jesus provides the solution to this need. He calls, empowers, and sends his disciples into the world as fishers of men. Jesus doesn’t hold back on the reality of this mission. If you take time to read chapter 10 you will find a difficult time connecting the ministry Jesus describes with what we have turned ministry into today.
I’m not trying to make suffering a requirement for faithfulness in Christ. However, I cannot avoid the reality of Christ’s command and the consequences that it will bring into the lives of those who obey it. This world does not love Jesus. This world killed Jesus. So when you surrender your life to Jesus and then commit your life to sharing with this world the message of Jesus, there is a good chance you might meet some resistance.
So let’s go back to the title of this blog…FISH.
Regardless of your theological convictions, religious tradition, or weekly participation in your faith, Jesus has called us to fish. How does a fisherman catch fish? He fishes. Sorry to insult your intelligence. It is true that only Jesus saves, but it is also true that he has invited us to be his method of bringing salvation to this world.
When we planted Vintage Church in 2008, I went fishing. So many doors were opened at the beginning of this new work because I was willing to hit the streets, including salvations, persons of peace, properties for ministry, etc. As God began to grow our church family I began to ignore this first command and instead cluttered my life with church work, only spending time with church people. Simply put, I started doing church instead of being the church. I took Satan’s bait.
Now, I’m not saying that all we do in the church world is bad. It is really important to gather for worship, to study weekly in a small group, to provide creative environments where people can clearly learn about Jesus, to facilitate outreach in our cities and around the world caring for the hurting and broken. But none of this is worthwhile if the goal isn’t focused on advancing the Kingdom of Jesus…fishing.
As I’ve been convicted of my own disobedience, Jesus has challenged me to fish. A few weeks ago I invited my church family throughout Twitter and Facebook to meet me in Uptown for some fishing. We met at the very place where I went fishing in 2008. I didn’t launch a ministry, put a name around our time, or market it on Sunday. It was just a simple invite to meet, pray, and tell people about Jesus. I was blown away by the amount of people that showed up. We broke up into groups of 3 or 4 and hit the streets.
God did some amazing things as we went fishing. Here were two conversations that night:
Me: Hey Man! Can I tell you about Jesus?
Man: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! (walks away)
Me: Hey Man! Can I tell you about Jesus?
Man: I’m cool with Jesus just tired of all the bull sh$& religion.
Me: Me too. That’s why I am in NOLA.
Man: What ya doing down here?
Me: I’m a pastor.
Man: F&$@ yeah! Where’s your thing at?
Me: Rock ’n’ Bowl.
Man: I gotta see that.
Now, I know what everyone wants to know. Did anyone get saved? On this night, no one professed Christ as Savior and Lord with us. We planted a ton of seeds and we are excited about all the new friendships God brought us. We believe that Jesus did great things that were both seen and unseen.
As we fish, we should pray for harvest and always be motivated to not just sow but reap a harvest. However, much like fishing, our job is to go out on the water, prepare the bait, set the hook, and cast the line. Whether or not the fish bite is up to God. If we remain faithful to this command from Jesus, he has promised that the harvest is plentiful.
Let’s go fishing!
In the next blog I’m going to talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as I’ve gone fishing. I’ll include insights on what to share, when to share, how to share, etc.