Today I had a good conversation with Kirk about being fishers of men. We were discussing how someone can go about leading people to Christ. I have been witnessing to several employees over the past year. One of the employees that I have been witnessing to finally went to Church the past two weeks. It was neat to see God working in his life. I took a different approach with this employee then I have done in the past with other people. I have tried numerous ways to witness over the years, and I finally found a way that seems to work for me. Of course, it is ultimately up to God how successful my efforts are.
I started thinking about a couple Bible verses about being fishers of men.
Matthew 4:19 NASB And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:17 NASB And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
The verses got me thinking about how I approach the task of fishing. I started breaking the down the process of fishing my mind. First, you have to have the right bait. Otherwise, nothing will bite. You start by putting your hook on the end of your line so that you can catch your fish. Next, you add a sinker to stabilize the line. After that, you want to add a bobber to see when the fish are biting. After you have your pole set up, it is time to bait your line. Adding the right amount of bait will allow your fish to bite and hook themselves on your hook. Too much bait and they will just nibble, but never get hooked. Too little bait the fish will knock it off your line and miss the hook.
If you visualize the fish biting on the line, they start to nibble, and the bobber goes up and down. You can start to see ripples in the water letting you know that there is a fish nearby. You have cast the line and set the bait in a way that the fish desire to eat from your line.
As I reviewed the process of fishing in my mind, I thought of how my children fished at a young age. Sometimes they wouldn't bait the line correctly, so when they cast the line, the bait fell off before the line hit the water. They would always get frustrated because they tried to do what they were supposed to, but never even got their line cast right. I also remember a time where my kids went into the pond trying to feed the fish by hand. If you know anything about fishing, you know that you will never get a single fish by jumping in the water and chasing them with bait. As soon as the fish saw my kid jump in the water, they were scared off.
How do we become fishers of men?
In the same way that I catch fish from the water, I can also capture lost souls with the gospel. When being fishers of men, you have to use different tools than a pole and bait. Firstly, the bait represents the gospel. Sharing the good news of Jesus engages non-believers. Secondly, the sinker that stabilizes the line is the Bible and prayer. The bobber represents the Church that supports the bait and sinker. Finally, the hook represents Jesus when someone has trusted in him for their salvation.
What I see a lot of Christians doing is acting like my children did when they went fishing. Instead of planting the seed and letting Jesus work in people's lives, we want instant results. We become impatient and want people to change in our time. Jumping in the water and trying to hand feed fish is an excellent way to illustrate how we act towards non-believers. We are quick to point out their sins and tell them what they are doing wrong. Instead of getting them to feed on the good news of Jesus, we scare them away with our forcefulness.
Pointing out sins.
Pointing out sins is not going to save someone's soul from an eternity in hell. In fact, you may push the person away from God altogether. Just like the fish fled from my kids when they tried to feed the fish by hand. When we are too loud at throwing Bible verses out for this and that, we are doing more harm than good. You turn into a Bible beater instead of a gospel sharer. No one wants something crammed down their throat. When someone tries to do this to us, we instantly shut them out.
My advice to you would be to approach witnessing as I did with fishing. If we want to be fishers of men, we must approach the task as fishers. When we do a sloppy job of witnessing to people, we are not good fishers. Trying to get the fish to bite by forcing ourselves upon them, does not accomplish the task of being a fisher either. Our job is to plant the seed of Jesus in lost souls. God will work his will in his time. We need to trust in his judgment and quit questioning his timing.