I have never fished. Nothing about it sounds interesting to me. I don’t eat fish, so why would I sit still for hours catching fish that I’m not going to eat. I touched fish more at Grand Portage than at any previous time in my life, and I haven’t touched one since. I’m fine with other people fishing, I just have no desire to do it myself.
But as Christians we are called to be fishers of people, which is a different kettle of fish. As a Christian I fish a lot. Although I don’t like the idea of luring people to Christ, I do think that Jesus Christ is irresistible. I want to be sure that I am witnessing regularly to his love and care for us. His unconditional love is bait that should catch any people fish around me.
The last time we attended Bethel International UMC, the sermon was about being fishers of people. The pastor suggested that we need to develop a “catch and release” method of fishing. We catch people, reel them in, develop them as Christians, and then release them back into the world. If we do it right, they are set free so that they can, in turn, catch more people in Christ’s love.
Sometimes I think the church is more like an aquarium than a stream of living water. We like to stay in our safe, contained, controlled environment. But Jesus calls us to be fishers. To go out into the streams, lakes, and rivers of life and cast our nets. We throw out our lines, hoping to entice someone to learn about and accept the love of Jesus for themselves. The church is a place where we are strengthened in love, but we live in the world. We have to leave the tank if we want to catch more fish.
As fishers of people, we need to constantly improve our fishing techniques. We need to develop friendships with people outside the tank so we can open up lines of communication. Then, when they are hooked, we can reel them in. Not to have an overflowing aquarium, but to release them again into the world so they can be fishers themselves.
“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19