As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ (Mk. 1:16-17)
I’d just become the pastor of a church on the Maine coast. The church had been shrinking for decades and the bishop had asked me to go there with the hope of turning things around.
Soon after I had started to serve, I decided to preach on today’s text. I was only a few minutes into the sermon when Stephen stood up and said, “Father, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I’ve something to say. I’m a fisherman. As a church, you need to know that we haven’t been going on any fishing trips. We put this ship, this church, in dry-dock and we expected the fish to jump in. We felt good about ourselves if we didn’t throw them all back into the sea. If I ran my fishing business like this church, my family would’ve starved.”
He then sat down. The congregation was stunned. Some were smirking. Some were indignant. Some probably wondered if the fisherman was a plant—he wasn’t. Some probably thought I was upset about being interrupted—I wasn’t.
What did I do? I asked, “Would anyone like to respond to Stephen’s comments?” After waiting several moments, I said, “If not, then let’s just say, Amen.”
Today’s encouragement is obvious: Jesus asks us to be fishers of people. I believe that many people are more comfortable catching fish than catching people. I also believe that some of us are reluctant about catching people because we feel like we don’t have the right gear.
So, what is our gear to catch people? Our actions, attitudes, words, and behaviors. When people see the Jesus-difference in us, they might be compelled to ask: “Why are you so hopeful?” “How and where did you get your peace? What makes you tick?”
Here’s our fishing challenge: How can we so illustrate in our lives what it means to be caught by Jesus, that others want to be caught by Him as well?
- Who have been those in your life that helped you to see or hear Jesus?
- What could you do to be a better “net” for Jesus?
- If you had been in the congregation on the day when Stephen stood up and said that the church hadn’t been in the fishing business, how would you have reacted?