My wife gets nervous when I go out fishing alone. Often she’ll insist that I take along a walkie-talkie when I’m fishing alone from my canoe (which is also handy for summoning me for lunch!). Admittedly, there is a safety issue here, but there is one big setback to fishing with a buddy: There is competition for the limited supply of fish!
Yes, fishing can be a competitive sport. How many fish did you catch? How big were they? Fishing with a buddy will likely limit your personal catch.
Nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus approached four men on a beach and called them: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). When Jesus called these men, I don’t think He was calling them to a competitive sport. My sense is that Jesus was calling them, and us, to a team pursuit. When we’re “fishing for people” we’re not fishing for personal gain, but for a bigger purpose. We’re fishing in response to Jesus’ call, and as a way of participating in the growth of the Christian Church.
But here’s the awesome thing: my fishing ability does not determine the size of the catch. When I fish for fish, skill and experience matters a tonne. When I fish for people, however, the “catch” is determined by another. Jesus, who calls me to fish for people also makes this promise: “I will build My Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18).
In other words, Jesus is not relying upon us to build His Church. Our job is simply to fish, to drop a line, to explain the way of salvation to another. It is also encouraging to note that fishing for people is not a solo mission. Jesus made a group of followers into “fishers of men”. You could say that the early church was a collection of “fishing buddies”—followers of Jesus got together, and one of the primary things they did as a group was assist one another in spreading the message of Jesus.
We admitted in the post prior to this how fishing for people can be an intimidating exercise. I am encouraged by the example I see in the New Testament: We need not fish alone. And, as we commit ourselves to fishing with others, Jesus promises that we will succeed—not with every person, not on every occasion, and maybe not immediately—but ultimately, Jesus promises that our efforts to fish for people will not be in vain.
For my complete list of fishing tips for fishing buddies, I encourage you to listen to a message I delivered at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on November 8. Once you’ve done that, grab a buddy and go fish!