Scripture: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said,
“and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17, NIV. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37, NIV.
Farmers and fishermen
are workers laboring in two radically different environments, yet united in
seeking a common goal. They employ quite different methods to gain a harvest.
The methods associated with one profession may work quite well, but achieve
nothing if attempted by the other. Is one more “proper” than another? No,
My wife relishes eating pickled beets. I would get
as much enjoyment from eating painted pieces of cardboard. She watches me
eat olives in amazement, not fathoming how anyone could place one of those
things into their mouth, let alone chew and swallow it. Right or wrong? No,
just different tastes. Individualized tastes. God made us both, equal in His
love, different in being.
The first disciples that Jesus called were fishermen.
He talked fishcatcher talk to them. “Come, follow me, because we are going
after bigger fish. You will enjoy it, and be able to feed your souls, and
the souls of others, as well.” They understood, and dropped their nets,
and followed Jesus.
I have not heard that any of the disciples were
farmers, but when Jesus talked to farmers, he didn’t say, “Come, follow
me, we are going to plant fish.” When he spoke of the “fields white for
harvest” he didn’t say, “Come bring your nets.” Likewise, when Jesus
talked of sowing seed, he pointed out that locations matter. He differentiated
between types of soil, and environs- mental hazards affecting success.
(Matthew 13) On the other hand, the sea is not so full of fish that you just
cast your net any old where, and pull in a boat full. Jesus said, “cast your
net on the other side of the boat.” Keep in mind that they had been working
all night. It was not for lack of trying that they were unsuccessful. They
were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Observe that the means of achieving the harvest
are quite different. Fishermen use terms like hook, catch, snare. That is
what you have to do to catch fish - and some people. But it scares me! You
see, I am more of an agricultural sort. You have to plant a seed on me, cultivate
just the bare minimum, and patiently wait on God to do His thing.
Please note that I am NOT saying,
dump the one method and hew to the other. Please note that I AM saying:
FIRST determine what is effective and appropriate to gain
the harvest you are seeking. You don't plant fish in the field, nor sow seed
in the sea.
SECOND, find out how best to use the appropriate tools and
methods to bring in the harvest, whether fish hooks or sickles.
Again, when Jesus used the analogy of the vine and orchard, he
spoke of pruning and grafting, techniques that are quite effective, but not
as applied to fish and fields of grain. I don’t expect to hear a fisherman
say, “I’m going out and prune my fish today!” Or a shepherd say, “I
am going to tread out my sheep.”
The most appropriate method to reach sinners is
that which reaches the sinner. Paul spoke of preachers and prophets,
evangelists and teachers, those who are able to help, and those who are able
to give. Find your niche, and look for your harvest there.
Luke 5:1-11; 13:6-9; 15:1-7;
John 10:1-18; 15:1-8.
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