Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lessons from a Fisherman

I just got back from my fishing trip in Manteo at the outer banks. We're fishing in the surf which isn't easy. I'm not much of a fisherman. I don't have the patience for it. But I'm here trying to learn about fishing. Jesus compared the core pursuit of the Christian life to fishing. As we continue the pursuit of acquiring enough fish for a fish fry I've been thinking of the pursuit of being fishers of men. That was what Jesus said we were to be.  So here are my observations about how be an effective fisherman.

1. Find the right place
The place we chose dramatically affected how effective our fishing was.  When we made a good choice and found a good spot, the fishing was good.   However, when the spot was not as good the results weren't that good either.  As Christians, we need to out ourselves in the right place to be effective.  As a Christian, you don't become effective by fishing at the church.  There aren't any fish there.  To be a good fisherman you have to go where the fish are.  Any decent church should be full of fishermen, not fish, that means we need to get away from the church.  

2. Use the right bait
On our trip in, we stopped to purchase some fish and shrimp for bait.  We could have used lures I suppose but that would not have been the right bait for the fishing we were doing.   There is such a thing as using the right bait in becoming an effective christian too.  Too many Christians and churches use the wrong bait.  They substitute morality or religion for faith and forgiveness.  Jesus never addressed people on the basis of their moral failures or successes.  He talked to them about there real need.  He talked to them about their need to know and experience the presence of God.  Too many churches use the loser bait of church attendance.  The bait that attracts people is the transforming love of God.   

3. Use the right method
I've been fishing with my father hundreds of times.  My father is a real, old timey, seaside fisherman.  I've seen him sometimes add more weight to his line.  I've seen him change the line to a heavier line.  I've also seen fish using a fly fishing rod.  He uses a variation of bait and lures.  I've been with him fishing in creeks, lakes and the ocean and seen him switch it up based on the situation.  I was talking one of my guys on the fishing trip and this is the principle he described about fishing:  "The conditions have to determine the type of fishing you do."

As I think about our call as Christians to be fishers of men, I think the methods we use are also important.  And unfortunatley some methods are losers.  Every method doesn't work for every person.  The way I would talk to a child about Jesus is very different from the way I would an adult.  I would talk to an adult I knew well differently than I would someone I just met.  There have been times when all I did was to say "do you want to be a Christian?"  There have also been times when I took food, and repeatedly visited someone in an effort to reach them.  Every person is different and methods we use might have to be changed based on the person.  

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