Fishermen are an interesting breed, so it is no wonder Jesus called a group of fisherman to be his disciples.
And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Throughout the scriptures we see the idea of fishing is used as a metaphor for evangelism. It got me to thinking about how we view fishing today, and how it was back then, as well as how they did evangelism and we view it today.
When most people go fishing today, that take a hook put some bait on it, dangle it where they think the fish are and see if they can get a bite. The goal is to bring in one big fish. If we don’t get any tugs on the line we switch bait and try to lure in the catch. We seem to want to do the same sort of thing in evangelism. We focus on what bait will bring in the people, and how we can hook them once we have gotten them in. We want to bring in the perfect catch that we well be the envy of all that would look on
However fishing was different for the people of Jesus day. There was some us of a hook (Matthew 17:27), but the primary way of fishing was with a dragnet. This large net would be spread out in the seas with the hope of catching any and every kind of fish. Once the catch was hauled in, then the sorting would begin.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.
I wonder if this method isn’t the better way to fish for men. The Gospel is for all. Rather that trying to pick out the folks we want to catch and set out bait accordingly, shouldn’t we be casting the net of the Gospel as far and wide as we can? Rather than inspecting the soil, we need to be concerned with casting the seed far and wide. As those fish are brought in then comes the effort to eliminate what is bad.
You see this idea set forth in the Great Commission; (Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:19-20) Our job is to take the Gospel, to make disciples. It isn’t to determine who is worthy or who will / won’t accept. After we do that, our job is to teach what he commands, not to make people obey. The acceptance (or denial) of that is what will determine in the end who is cast out of the boat.
Maybe our evangelism programs are not working not because we don’t have the right “bait” but because we are not out casting the nets. Instead of trying to get that one perfect catch I should be focused on giving as many as we can to opportunity to obey.