Friday, March 28, 2008

Lets Go Clean Some Fish

I like to fish. Now, I don't go as much as I would like to, but every now and then I get a chance to go. I enjoy it whether I'm fishing from the shore, in a boat, in a big lake, or in a small pond. I'm not sure what it is I like most about fishing, but there are a couple of things that come to mind. First, just the fact that its a relaxing endeavour makes it quite appealing. I love kicking back just taking it easy for a few hours, and feeling a million miles away from all the hustle and bustle of life.

Then there's the challenge of trying to outsmart the fish. Trying this bait, or that bait, this lure or that lure, until finally you hook a few. There have been times I've come home empty handed and I have to admit, fishing is much more fun when you catch some fish.

Of course, when you catch fish, you have to clean them. Now, I'm sure there are those who just love this part, but if you're like me, this is not my favorite thing to do in the fishing process. Its messy, and stinky (although not near as stinky as some of that catfish bait). The point is this, nobody takes off for the lake saying, "I'm going to clean fish." It's just a necessary part of the process when you catch them.

Fishing is a lot like evangelism. As a matter of fact, when Jesus called the fisherman to follow him he told them that he would make them fishers of men. And although we so often make it harder than it is, telling others about the love of God is really a breeze. Like a fisherman, in order to be successful though, we need to study people and their cultures in order to effectively reach them. For instance, catching a bass takes a different technique than catching a catfish, and catching a catfish is quite different than catching trout. In the same way, people are different. There are white collar workers, blue collar workers, urban dwellers, suburbanites, single parents, seniors, teens, widows, etc. The list goes on and on and on. You can't reach all of them using the same method. I'm not saying, use a different message, the message is always - we are sinners and can do nothing to fix it, God so loved us he sent Jesus to die for us in order to fix it, Jesus was resurrected 3 days later, and salvation comes as a result of me believing that and declaring Jesus as Lord. However, there are a million and one ways to present that one message. If we'll sit back for a minute and ask the Holy Spirit what is the best way to reach a certain people group, trust me, the Holy Spirit will download his wisdom into us.

Of course, catching the fish is just the beginning. Don't forget the cleaning part! Once someone is converted, the real work begins. Discipleship is the process of helping someone go from point A to point B then to point C and so on. It's the messy part. The part where it requires us to walk through life with someone. It's the part when we have to have the difficult conversations that lead to spiritual growth. It's helping others to move past the powerful truth that God loves them, to developing in themselves that kind of love for others. It's that part that requires patience as a new believer stumbles and helping them back to their feet when they fall.

Without our willingness to roll up our sleeves and walk through life with new believers, we leave them on their own which is both unhealthy and irresponsible on our part. In Matthew 18, Jesus is clear about His feelings about new believers and those who would do them harm. I think He says something like, it would be better to have a stone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea. Ouch!!! We really need to learn to see new converts the way our heavenly Father sees them. Like new born babes who need a lot of nurturing. Only then will we see the urgency to walk hand and hand with them until they are able to step out on their own. But, oh what a powerful thing when they are able to stand alone and walk through life as a mature believer.

I don't know about you, but I feel like cleaning some fish.

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