I’m not much into fishing. In fact, I’d say I’ve gone fishing exactly one time. This metaphor for drawing people to the Christ doesn’t exactly resonate. My view of fishing: get some equipment, pick/find a spot, bait the hook, throw it out and wait; get a nibble and yank like crazy. Lose fish. Start over.
As He was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, throwing a dragnet into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, Come after Me [as disciples—letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men! [Amplified]
What’s the attraction for fishing? I see people fishing off our town dock all the time. Sometimes in small groups, sometimes alone, sometimes with a kid-relative. When I go on vacation, there are signs everywhere for bait (apparently different bait works with different fish – I got that much). And the first time I actually walked around the fishing department of a sports store, I was shocked. There were so many different lures and poles and gadgets. Did these actually make someone a better fisherman or just high tech?
But let’s go back to the message behind the metaphor. Jesus was talking to fishermen who used nets. It was more like a drop it in and haul ’em out kind of fishing. The expectation was that “human fish” would be hauled in by the hundreds and even thousands. I wonder if the fishermen-disciples started out expecting some additional equipment.
In the end, the fishing was done quite differently: travel, talk, share, teaching, listen, accept, and invite. The bait was love. Only one kind: unconditional.
Some people still think fishing for people requires a lot of extra stuff like buildings and hot worship music and lights and video and an “online presence.” Are people so different today? Or are we just in a hurry?
Peter was in a hurry. By the time he got to the day of Pentecost, he was bringing in believers by the net full. But in the end, despite the initial haul, the most effective method was still travel (go to where the fish are), talking (give and take conversation), sharing (give what you have and can), teaching (what you’ve learned long the way), listening (everyone has a story), accepting (practicing the art of non-judgment), inviting (live life together) and love (do, act, and touch in their best interests).
In God’s time, I am fishing every time I with someone, every time I engage with someone, every time I touch someone, every time I share space with another human being. My success as a fisher-woman is my commitment to handing out the bait.