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Fisherless Fishers Of People
Respond To The Call Of Christ, Cast Your Net, And Catch People
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
There was a group of men that lived in a place surrounded by streams and lakes filled with hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing! Their excitement led them to establish themselves as a group called “Fisherman’s Fellowship.”
Someone suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing. So they carefully redefined the terminology behind fishing along with the purpose of this specialized activity. Others developed fishing strategies and tactics of the sport.
In their pursuit of publishing a textbook manual on fishing, they realized that they had been going at it the wrong way. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman rather than that of the fish. How do fish view their aquatic world? How do fish perceive fishermen? What do fish eat? When do fish get hungry? These questions demanded answers.
So they began an intensive research leading them to attend conferences on fishing. Some group members traveled far and wide to study different kinds of fish within their unique habitats. Others got their full-time fishing licenses while some earned expensive doctorates in Fishology. In spite of this grand effort to acquire the knowledge of fishing, not a single member from the Fisherman’s Fellowship had gone fishing.
This concern called for the formation of a special committee to commission and send out fishermen. As potential places to fish outnumbered the fishermen, the committee needed to determine their main concern. A priority list of places to fish was drawn up and posted on the bulletin boards in all the Fisherman Fellowship halls across the land. Still no one was fishing.
A survey was launched among the members to find out why this was so. Most declined to answer the questionnaire. From the few that responded, it was discovered that some felt exclusively called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging fishermen. With all the mandatory meetings and workshops, the rest found no time to fish.
One day a newcomer happened to sign up with the Fisherman’s Fellowship. After hearing one stirring message on “The Necessity of Fishing” at the fellowship hall, he stood fully convicted. He was hooked! Armed with a fishing rod and some bait, he responded to the call to fish. Standing knee deep in the stream, he cast his line and caught a choice fish.
At the next fellowship meeting the newcomer shared his story. His fellow members honored him for his catch and voted him into the prestigious Board of Fishermen. His newly elected position afforded him an opportune chance to speak at all the fellowship chapters. He was swamped with invitations overnight.
Soon, the newcomer began to feel restless and empty. The streams teaming with fish were calling out to him. He longed to feel the “tug on the line” once again. He abruptly cut his speaking engagements and resigned from the Board. Then he called out to a friend saying, “Let’s go fishing!” And together they reeled in an unbelievable catch of fish that day.
It’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed their lives by putting up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. Others pulled all-nighters on their knees searching for the proper bait. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fellowship and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished a day in their lives.
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Their chosen occupational sport sounded fishy. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing? There’s no better time to find out and go fishing.
Jesus told his fellow fishermen where to cast their nets, and they did. The catch was more than they could handle. The key is to cast our nets where Jesus tells us to cast our nets. Sometimes we are simply wrapped up in the study of many theories that it drowns out the Great Fisherman’s tried and proven methods of fishing. Why not trust Jesus to make you the fisherman He called you to be?
The members of the Fisherman’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few. When was the last time you and I did some serious fishing? What are you doing to catch fish? What are we waiting for? After all, Jesus did say, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” Respond to the call of Christ, cast your net and catch people.
Adapted from an article by John M. Dresher.