Gone Fishing. Shut up and Fish. My other car is a boat. I’d rather be fishing. I am, therefore I fish. Get Reel.
You know the drill. God says we are to be fishers of men. We get that. We’re meant to attract people, to gather people for Christ. We are meant to be casting ourselves out and lovingly drawing people back to our great God. To put it bluntly, my hook’s a little rusty. I struggle to build the relationships required to lead people to Christ.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day up at Reachout, a mission conference in the Blue Mountains. It was a great day. Myself and others were challenged to consider cross-cultural outreach and ministry, and there was a massive challenge to get off our bums and actually serve God. Amen to that.
One of the three talks I heard was from Rev. Steve Maina, a guy from Kenya who is now the National Director of CMS in New Zealand. Wisdom and experience emanated from him; his humility and care was so raw, especially considering his level of experience. He delivered a ripper of a talk, – there was so much wisdom to dig up and sort through. Here’s what he said:
1. Mission and ministry requires us to have confidence in the gospel.
2. This gospel confidence flows out of deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ.
3. Mission and ministry cannot be exercised in an individualistic way, but in community: the prayerful, aware, passionate and encouraging body of Christ.
One thing that I was hugely struck by was this second point: it is only by growing in Christ, and only by a Christ-centred life, that we can actually serve God. It was the fact that the apostles had personally met, lived with, hung out with, learnt from and got to know that gave them credibility.
‘And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”’ – Matthew 4.
Jesus tells them to follow him, and he will make the fishers of men. He does not say they are, or they should be, or they should try. He says he will make them fishers of men.
Friends, if we are to be fishers of men, we must follow Christ.
As Steve Maina said, mission is not about winning lots of converts. If it were about converts, he said, he would not be in New Zealand, but in Africa. I have heard John Piper say a similar thing. Christianity, and ministry that God loves is about obediences. Our ministry and outreach is not about going to a place. It’s about following a person. Jesus. Draw close to Jesus, and he will make us fishers of men.
This is fantastic news. Now we can be free from these insecurities, the doubts. It’s not always going to be easy to know the will of God. Oh no. Far be it from me to say that. Many a prayer must be offered, and many a tear must be wept to find what it looks like. But know that if you are following Christ, you will be fulfilling your calling. It’s beautiful how this intertwines sovereignty and evangelism, how it blends regeneration and discipleship with outreach. Jesus is transforming you to be like him, and to bring others along with you.
But it’s not just about you and your own journey, about your ministry, or that local, real community you bunk down with in your battle for Christ.
God works in amazing ways.
Somehow, you and I are involved with this. It’s actually such a huge thing that I am struggling to find the words to say how I feel at the moment I am writing this. It’s just such an explosively incredible thing: incredible not only in the sense that it is amazing, but also a little hard to grasp. Redemption in Jesus’ blood and his rise from the grave is purely by his power. Yet we are the fishers who God is sending out to gather his people. We are to go and summon the elect.
This is not to say that we have power to save. No. Jesus does the saving. But it is not even that we are just heralds or fishermen to bring people to Christ. Remember who made us fishers? Yeah, that’s right. Jesus did. He has determined to involve us in a cosmic redemption, one that blows the Exodus out of the water, and is the final establishment of God’s people.
It’s such a high calling, and such a privileged path that we walk.
Follow Jesus, and he will make you fishers of men. Friends, this is no small thing. Glory to Him.