And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Do you like to fish? Me, too! Especially when I’m actually catching them. Near my home on the Gulf of Mexico the fishing can be sensational. I watched my wife hook, play and land a five-foot tarpon not long ago. Wow, was she impressive! (My wife, not the fish!) The baits we use run the gamut from small fish to squid to worms. Now, believe it or not, I have never eaten a worm, although I have consumed a squid. Just one. There won’t be a second one. But the fish we try to catch like those awful creatures. See, the bait is for the fish, not the fisherman. Oh, another thing intrinsic to angling: I’ve never had a fish come to me and ask to be hooked; I have always had to go to the water and search for them.
An unhappy person reminded me the other day of the philosophical mandate of our church: Reach/Teach/Send. She explained that she rather liked the Teach/Send part, but not the reaching aspect. She said we were catching fish she didn’t really like on our “stringer.” And she vociferously objected to our bait.
Here’s what bothered her: We recently dedicated a small part of our church lobby to a sitting area where people can congregate, sit around, talk – and (dare I say it?) even drink coffee. Now I’m the last pastor who wants the church lobby to look like McDonalds; however, with the proper care that small spot in the foyer can serve as a grand fishing dock for souls. That’s what it’s for. But the lady objected because….well, primarily because it was just different! She said to me, “Pastor, the church lobby ought to be sacred.” I asked her, “Is there anything more sacred than obeying Christ’s command to be fishermen?” She replied, “Yes, keep coffee out of the church lobby!” In other words, catch fish without any bait.
Prayer: O God, we take extremely seriously Your mandate to evangelize our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. May our motives always be proper and our fishing gear in good order. May our stringer be full of precious souls to present to you on that eternal day when we dock our boat for the final time. Amen.