I have never understood the fascination of fishing, but my mother would continue to fish all day, even when she did not catch anything. In a rainstorm, she would keep fishing, until her children started screaming that they were afraid of the lightning! Fishing for Mama was a way to relieve stress, and it was the very opposite for me.
I like results that I can hold in my hand, and when I did not catch fish, I went home with only one good nerve from wishing so hard for the fish to bite, already! I felt like a failure and that the day had been wasted. I simply lacked the patience and self-control for real fishing. But, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, calls me, along with all other people of God to be fishers for people (Matthew 4:19).
However, the command to become fishers of people appears to have lost its significance in the modern era of the Church. If people do not stumble into our churches, then they simply do not hear the words of the Lord. The walls around our churches seem more to keep Christians inside with each other, safe from the “others,” rather than to encourage us to go fishing for the lost and hurting who need to hear the comfort and reassurance of God’s words.
I believe that Jesus specifically chose to be among his disciples the four young Jewish men who fished for their livelihood. He knew that they had the patience, self-control, and peace needed to continue to fish even when you are not catching anything. They would likely not lose hope, but keep on fishing for people even against opposition.
So, when he prepared to ascend to His Father, he said to them, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
Yet, today, many churches do not do evangelism and local missions. We seem more likely to sponsor overseas missions, but let our local neighborhoods and communities alone. But, we see in the media and on our street corners the many hurting and angry people in our communities who need to be “caught” for Jesus.
The need for fishers of men is as great today as it was in the days of the disciples, Peter, Andrew, John, and James. But, how do we convince people that you can’t catch fish, as God calls us to do, if you don’t leave the confines of your buildings and go seek them. Fish don’t simply jump on the line. I do not fish in the real sense of the word, but even I know that much!
So, come on, people of God, let’s break down the walls of our comfort zones, and enter the real world. Let’s learn how to fish for people again, reading our Bibles and learning from those who still fish for people what is the best “bait” in God’s words to use to help people to “taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8). Yes, it means striving to improve our patience and self-control, so that we can do the work we are called to do.
I still remember the young white Bible-school students in my hometown who came into my black neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s, teaching us the word of the Lord. They gave us Scriptures to memorize, and prizes for learning them. I hope to see them in the New Jerusalem, to say thank you. With daily revelations of hate, hurt, and harassment, this is not the time to stop fishing!