“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him”
This was Jesus’ message to Simon and Andrew—follow Me, learn of Me, pass through My refining fires, experience firsthand My nature and My message. Only then will you be able to be fishers of men.
And yet many of us were never taught to follow Jesus. We were instead taught “Fishing for Men 101”. It goes like this:
As a believer of Jesus, it’s your duty to get out there and fish. Pull in those converts. You don’t need to know God to do it, only this simple formula: Build rapport with your target fish. Be interested in him. Gain his trust. Wait for it … Wait for it … Snag him! Reel him in! Then walk him through The Sinner’s Prayer:
Have him confess his sins, and ponder Jesus’s blood shed for him on the cross. Ideally he can muster up some guilt about that. Have him repeat after you, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior”, out loud, preferably in front of people. Hallelujah, he’s saved! Direct him to give God the glory for his great transformation. Prepare him for his upcoming role as a fisherman, according to The Great Commision. Invite him to church, and inform him that he’ll be mentored in “Fishing for Men 101”, in expectation that he perpetuate the practice.
And by golly, if you gain a sweet new notch on your fishing belt for snagging him, you’re just blessed. You’re humbled to have been used by God. To show how humble you are, you stand up on Testimony Night and ever-so-proudly — er, humbly, ever-so humbly — tell everyone how you — er, God, you meant to say — how God saved another lost fish.
Sound familiar? We don’t even question “Fishing for Men 101”, because people in authority and peers we respect don’t.
We never talk to the fish we were unable to snag — those still out in the sea — because if we did, we would hear that our fishing tactics violated them, disturbed them, and made them run from anything remotely “Christian” or “of God”. We don’t want to learn that the very thing we call “service to God” was the catalyst to their atheism.
We don’t accept accountability for representing God to non-Christians and Christians alike as a God who presumes, stereotypes, manipulates, and imposes; a God who is arrogant, obtuse and coercive. He’s none of those things, of course — but we are, and we don’t own that.
We never ask ourselves if we even know God. Why would we? We are the accepted ones. We choose who validates us — we surround ourselves with like-minded and like-behaving people, substitutes for direct feedback from God — and disown, block, slander, and unfriend those who discern our hearts or dare to address it.
We wouldn’t know if God is saying to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”, or the opposite, “I don’t know you”, because we don’t ask Him. We don’t pray with sincerity as David did, “Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.”
‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said …
Know Me. Understand Me. Depend on Me. Listen to Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it. Be an extension of Me — without your agendas, learned strategies, and preconceived ideas of what I might do with, through, and for you. Let Me implement with you the superior plans I have for you.
‘and I will make you fishers of men.’
The I is Jesus. He will teach, train, counsel, encourage, assign, position, and orchestrate so that we end up where He wants us. He is the one to make us fishers of men, if He so chooses.
When He leads, any impact we may have on humankind is not harmful, but helpful. Subjected to His discipline and refining fires, our impurities are removed over time so that it is not our ugly natures, but His indwelling Holy Spirit that is visible to others. It is not us at all, but God’s authentic love, mercy and justice that is the bread of life. That bread is indiscriminate — He offers Himself to each and every fish in the sea.
At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Simon and Andrew were willing to follow.