I'll be the first to admit, I don't fish. Besides a lack of interest, there are two main deterrents for me to really "get into" fishing. First is the absolute hassle of having to learn the habits and preferences of the different types of fish in order to lure them onto my hook. The second is all the expensive equipment required to be successful at the endeavor. This week I have been contemplating the phrase "Fishers of Men" and I'm seeing some new parallels.
Matthew 4:19 says,
And He (Jesus) said unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
I've established that I'm not what you'd call a fishing enthusiast. So naturally, the call to be a fisher of men, doesn't really hit me in the feels. While I can see that Jesus' call was tailor-made for a much more appropriate audience- fishermen, I still believe the call rings true for me these two millennia later. My reception to that call is akin to how I would react to an invitation to a late-night fishing trip: inadequate in knowledge, investment and interest.
I've said my two main detractors are having to study the fish and having to invest in getting the equipment needed. I completely glazed-over the fact that I'm just not interested in fishing. If I'm honest with myself, the same holds true with "fishing men" for Jesus. When I think of it as a chore and a cost, I'd just rather stay home.
This week, I thought about the kind of fishing the disciples were doing all those years ago on the Sea of Galilee. These weren't fly fishermen, tying just the right fly and attempting the perfect cast in thigh-high waders. They weren't pursuing a trophy fish to hang on their wall. These men were casting a net into the deep and seeing what they pulled up.
I don't want to diminish the level of know-how they employed in their craft, but net fishing is a far-cry from pole fishing. Rather than solitary, it is most often communal. Rather than elite and expensive, it is done by poor people around the world. Maybe the reason I've never really come around to the whole "fishers of men" idea is that I've looked at it all wrong.
Is it possible that fishing for men looks like being open and friendly to the outside world? Casting a wide net and seeing what you pull in? Instead of pouring over the books and preparing the perfect lure, maybe it's choosing to live the Christian life out in the open and seeing who is attracted to it.
We can't control who our lives attract, who will see Jesus in our words and actions, or who's a catch-and-release. All we can do is live with open arms, embracing all who swim past us and gathering them with a net of love. When I think of evangelism like pole fishing, it seems disingenuous; tricking and hooking an unsuspecting prey. When I think of it like net fishing, my job is simply to gather nets full of people and let God do the sorting. That doesn't seem fishy at all.