And He said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
I will be honest; I hate fishing. And especially if I’m supposed to throw the fish back! I just don’t understand the point…
My dislike for fishing actually grew on a recent camping trip, during my devotional times! Every morning, I would watch the sun rise above the hills as I sat reading my Bible and, every morning, a young couple would set up right in front of me with their gear. They would hook up several fishing lines across the shore of the lake, then sit and gossip while they drank their beers in their lawn chairs. Occasionally they would “catch” something on their lines and go fiddle with the fishing pole, then sit back down. If there were a fish on the line, then they would reel it in and throw it back into the lake.
Day after day, I watched this occur, and it finally hit me — that’s how I fish! Clearly I’m not really fishing for fish, but I would venture to say that most Christians (myself included) evangelize like modern fishermen. We throw out a few lines like, “what church do you go to?” and hope someone bites. And even if they do bite, rarely do we follow up and yank the line. Instead we cut the line and leave them to swim in the lake.
What a far cry this image is from true evangelism! When Jesus gave the example of fishing, he was speaking to men whose lives had depended on catching fish. They would starve if they didn’t catch anything. These fishermen worked hard, casting huge nets and pulling them in with all of their strength. They were constantly in the battle with the sea; they were not sitting in a lawn chair enjoying a relaxed day or life. They were actively pursuing large catches of fish and pulling them onto their boat.
Can you imagine what the church would be like today if we had that kind of passion and zeal for the lost?! If we gave them the gospel as if their lives depended on it… because quite frankly our lives ARE dependent on the gospel. Can you imagine the transformation that would take place if we spent more time telling unbelievers about Christ than we did skimming Facebook?
The next time you read Matthew 4, don’t picture modern day leisure fishing. Instead, think of true fishermen who worked hard to spread their nets and pull in fish. Follow that example and pursue sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen. Invite non-believers to our Church and to our regional studies! Above all, be known for your passion of Christ!
How do we do this? How do we spread the gospel? Let’s look back at Matthew 4:19. Jesus says to follow Him and HE will make us fishers of men. So then, as we passionately pursue our relationship with God, the consequence will be that we burst forth with love for Him and share the gospel with others!
Maybe you’re thinking, “but I’m not gifted to evangelize” and I want to say, “Really? I’m not gifted to be forgiving. I guess I don’t have to do that either then!”
Although there are some very gifted evangelists, we are all called to share the Gospel. The role of those are gifted in evangelism is to come alongside us and teach us and make us more effective. In fact, if you are struggling to evangelize FBC is offering a class this fall on evangelism. So there is really no excuse to keep Christ to yourself.
I am constantly praying that I would be like Jeremiah and, even if I don’t want to share Christ, I wouldn’t be able to keep Him in!
Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name.” But His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not hold back. (Jeremiah 20:9)