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Fishers of men

February 5, 2018 No Comment

by Glenn E. Schaeffer
In his Gospel Luke says, “They pulled their boats up on shore, and left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11). Mark tells us that, “[James and John] left their father in the boat with the hired men and followed Him” (Mark 1:20). Peter, Andrew, James, and John left their boats because they knew they could not catch the lost fish of the world by remaining in their boats.

To catch lost fish, fishers of men have got to get out of their boat! If we’re going to be serious fishers of men we have to fish where the lost fish are!

But here’s the problem: many of us think having the presence of the “boat” (i.e. the church building) docked in a community will catch lost fish! Many entertain the notion that the activities that go on within the boat (e.g. worship services, Bible classes) will somehow cause the lost fish of the community to magically jump into our boat.

When we leave this boat (this church building) behind, the Lord sends us to fish for the lost fish in our family, our neighbourhood, our workplace, the coffee shops, the hockey rinks, the soccer fields, hospitals, nursing homes, and so on.

When fishing for lost fish it is important to develop relationships—to be a friend. It’s wise to take our neighbour to his doctor’s appointment, to visit the lonely person in the hospital or nursing home, to provide a shoulder for someone to cry on, to visit the person who is grieving the death of a loved one. But all too often that is where our witness ends. Essentially, we’re fishing without our God-given “gospel nets.”

Maybe you have heard this fishing tale: A game warden observed that each evening a certain fisherman brought back more fish than everyone else combined. The warden became leery and inquisitive. As a result, he decided to go fishing with the fortunate man to see how he did it. The fisherman navigated his boat to an isolated lagoon. Dropping anchor, he opened his tackle box, withdrew a stick of dynamite and lit the fuse. The game warden watched dumbfounded. The man held the dynamite until the fuse was short, then hurled it into the water. As it struck the water, it detonated. Immediately many dead and stunned fish floated to the surface. As the fisherman collected the fish, the infuriated warden shouted, “Stop! This is outrageous. It’s illegal! You can’t fish this way.” As the game warden railed on and on, the fisherman took out another stick of dynamite. He lit the fuse and put it in the warden’s hand with the words, “Are you gonna talk or are you gonna fish?”

The key to catching the fish is sharing the Word of Jesus!

We know it’s not appropriate to fish for fish with dynamite, but it is essential that we use “dynamite” when fishing for men, women and children! St. Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the “dynamite”—the power of God unto the salvation of those who believe!” (Romans 1:16). Paul asks, “How can they call on the one whom they have not believed in? (v.14). “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” (v.15). And “…faith comes from hearing the message and message is heard through the Word of Christ” (v.17).

The key to catching the fish is sharing the Word of Jesus! As you take your neighbour to his doctor’s appointment tell him about the Great Physician who heals wounds and diseases. As you visit the lonely patient in the hospital or the elderly person in the nursing home share with her that Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, is her daily Companion. As a neighbour cries on your shoulder assure him that Jesus invites, “Come unto me all you who are weak and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” As you visit the person who is grieving the death of a loved one assure her that He who is the Good Shepherd journeys with her through the valley of the shadow of death. These are examples of fishing with the gospel nets provided by the Lord.
May our Lord grant you an abundant catch as you serve as a fisher of men!

Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer is president of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Church–Canada

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