I think most Christians get that we’re called to “fish” for people. Jesus made His agenda for His followers quite clear (Matthew 4:19).
And yet, from what I see, many Christians are reluctant to fish. It’s not that we think fishing for people is unimportant or unnecessary. Our challenge, I suspect, is that we’re afraid to fish.
We’re nervous about the potential of fracturing a relationship if we talk about Jesus. We’re paralyzed by the prospect of offending someone. We’re anxious about what to say, and how to respond to difficult questions.
It should be of some consolation to note that the first followers of Jesus began as a bunch of cowards. When Jesus was arrested, they all deserted Him. When Peter was approached, he denied knowing Jesus on three successive occasions. We’re not the first group of people to be afraid to identify publicly with Jesus.
But here’s the thing. The first disciples ultimately overcame their fear. Not only did they overcome their fear, but they became the courageous leaders of the early church. How did this happen? The first followers learned to rely on a power bigger than themselves—they stepped up their commitment to pray (see Acts 4:23-31).
I note that the early disciples prayed differently than I often do. When adversity strikes my instinct is often to pray, “Lord, get me out of this”, “Lord, make this go away.”
Amazingly, the early church didn’t envision a life without persecution, and they didn’t pray for their adversity to go away. Instead they prayed: “Lord, enable us to speak your message with boldness” (Acts 4:29).
My dream is for followers of Jesus in 2009 (and beyond) to own this prayer. Our fear, in a sense, is normal. However, it is the Lord’s custom to equip His people to do that which He calls them to. Jesus has called us to fish. If that makes you nervous, may I encourage you to pray for boldness to deliver Christ’s message.