The following post was written by our Pastor of Care, Tony Haefs.
Anyone who has fished with me will tell you I am not a very good fisherman, but I still love to fish. I also love fish stories. One of my favorite is about two fishermen who are out in their boat one Sunday morning when they heard the church bells ring in the distance. One of the men said to the other, “You know we really ought to be in church.” The second man replied, “Yes, but I couldn’t have gone anyway, the wife is sick in bed.” Some people are really dedicated to fishing.
Jesus has called you and I to be fishers of men. Mark 1:16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” What does it means to be fishers of men.
The Command - “follow me”. Joseph Stowell (pastor of the Moody Church) identified our problem as the modern church well when he said, “We have become quite happy to call ourselves Christians with little or no thought of following.”
Following is not something that is difficult. I can get behind someone else and walk in their footsteps. But as far as being a fisher of men on my own, I don’t know about that. That intimidates me.
But the command comes with …. The Promise – “I will make you to become fishers of men” When Jesus called his disciples, they were not at that time what Jesus wanted them to become. He promised to “make” them to “become” fishers of men. These men were:
• common laborers
• often harsh
But God is not bound by who we are! Jesus looked beyond what they were to what they would become. The important principle at work here is that those whom Christ has called He enables and empowers to perform the task to which they have been assigned. Jesus did not simply command His disciples to become fishers of men but he promised to make them fisherman after men’s souls.
But to fulfill the Command involves…. The Process – “to become fishers of men” So as Christians it is urgent that we carry out the command to bring people to Christ. I think most of us understand that but the question is, “How can we influence others to Christ?” I want to mention three ways that we influence people to come to Christ.
• We May Influence Others To Christ by Our Attitude. 1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
In other words, there should be such a reflection of joy and hope to our lives that others will ask about it, thus opening the door for us to share the Gospel.
When you think of a fisherman what picture comes to your mind? A man with a fishing rod casting a lure into the waters of a stream or a lake. However, such was not the case when Jesus called his disciples. They caught fish with nets and by experience they found that their best fishing took place at night. We know that this is true by looking at Luke 5:5, when Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat - do you remember what Peter said to Jesus? He said, “Master we have toiled all night and caught nothing nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” How did they fish at night? They used a very powerful and effective method, light. Fish were attracted to light.
I remember not long after I moved here to Albany - two men who my fishing buddies .These men loved to crappie fish. They came by and picked me up late one afternoon. I had never fished like they did so everything was new. We arrived at the lake and it took us about 30 minutes to get to their favorite fishing hole. We began to get set up and soon had 8 lines in the water. We sat there for a few minutes then ate supper. We talked and laugh - and were having a good time. When these fellows got out four lanterns and lit them and put it out over the water. The sun had set and darkness was upon us. I asked why the lights - Carl said it would attract the fish - for the next 30 minutes or no fish - but the light was attracting a lot of bugs. Then the action started - at one time we were pulling in 4 or 5 crappie at a time.
This light method is powerful and effective and was not knew for the disciples were use to it as well. And Jesus uses this same effective method to draw people to Himself. John tells us that Jesus said (8:12), “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” Just as fish are attracted to the fisherman’s light, God wants people to be drawn to His light shining through His people. Paul stated in 2 Cor 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are not the light, we merely reflect the light of Jesus.
• We May Influence Others To Christ By Our Actions. - Matt 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Christianity is defined in the eyes of the world by the good works that we do. The sad truth is that the reputation of Christians as a whole is suffering and many in the mainstream of society are turned off by what they see and hear. We seem to be known by what we hate. And to many we are seen as hypocrites. But it is when the Church reaches out in servant evangelism that it gains a hearing for the Gospel.
•We May Influence Others To Christ By Our Words.
While it’s essential that we witness by our attitudes and by our actions, sooner or later it will be necessary for us to use our words. In the Scripture that we used earlier 1 Pet. 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, When it says “be prepared to give an answer” it means be prepared to give a verbal defense.
Now it isn’t popular in our culture today to speak out about your Christian beliefs. It is no longer politically correct to share our faith with unbelievers. They say, “How dare you try to shove your religion on someone else? How dare you think you’re the one who is right? You can’t do that! ” But I have news for you. It’s always been that way. In the book of Acts, the Jewish Sanhedrin commanded those first apostles to be quiet and to preach no more in the name of Christ. Acts 4:18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."
When Jesus called them to follow Him it was a call that required complete and immediate detachment from everything else. Peter and Andrew “left their nets” (v. 20). James and John “left their father” (v. 22). The requirements for following Jesus are not the same for everyone. For some it means leaving their present occupations to follow him. For others it means a willing to leave family connections and being close to family. But for everyone it is a willingness to exchange their affections, goals and priorities for his.
When we learn that someone is dying what is the single most important topic on our minds. “Are they saved?” What this should remind us of is that what really matters in life is what we are most concerned about at death – whether or not people know Jesus Christ, when someone is dying nothing else really matters does it?
There have been times in the life of every Christian when he or she recognized that the greatest thing he could do with his life was to get someone else to Christ. It may be that Christ wants you to recommit yourself to reaching someone for Christ. Perhaps it is someone that you have given up on? Have you ever really stopped to realize that Jesus wants you to be someone whose heart is moved to reach out to the lost people around you?
Mark 1:16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus said “Follow me and I will make you Fishers of Men.”
Jesus has called you and I to be fishers of men. We may not be like Peter who preached one day and three thousand were added to the church. We can however, all be like Andrew who after he had been brought to the Savior, found his brother, Peter, and brought him to the Lord Jesus. Peter fished with a net, and caught large numbers. Andrew fished with a fishing pole, catching one fish at a time. We may not be called upon to preach to great multitudes or even to groups, yet we can witness effectively to individuals one by one. What a privilege that can be! We, like Andrew, might lead someone to the Lord, and that one, in turn, might lead thousands.
To be effective at personal evangelism, you must:
1. Go to where the fish are
Not too many fish are going to jump into your boat. You have to go to where the fish are. You will never catch fish until you are willing to leave your comfort zone and go to where the fish are.
2. Understand how a fish acts
In order to be effective in personal evangelism, you have to know something about how people without Christ live. One of our biggest challenges for “fishing for men” is that the longer we are Christians, the less time we spend with non-believers. So what does that mean? You must be willing to build a bridge of friendship with a person without Christ, but then you must walk across that bridge and tell them about the good news of Jesus. Give them a chance to trust Christ In our day, we need to build relationships of trust with them before we lead them for Jesus.
3. Be willing to use different of strategies.
A good fisherman isn’t afraid to try new approaches, they don’t quit after one cast or even a dozen casts; he just tries a different bait –a different strategy. That’s a great lesson for us. No two people are alike so there is no single approach to person evangelism that will work. Different people need different approaches.
4. Learn to wait – exercise patience.
George Mueller was a great man of faith who lived in England in the last Century. He had a friend with whom he shared Christ many times. His friend resisted and refused to turn from his sins to Christ. Mueller prayed for him and witnessed to him for 52 years! He never gave up. And on the day of George Mueller’s funeral, his friend finally accepted Christ. That’s patience!
List five people you know who need to know Jesus:
Commit yourself to pray.