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FAITH: Fishing With A Net



On one of my six trips to the Holy Land, I observed something with great spiritual implications.  We were staying in a hotel which stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. When I say “on the shore” that is exactly what I mean.  It was not sitting back off the sea by a hundred yards.  That would qualify for “on the shore” but it would not fully depict what I mean.  The hotel we were occupying was only about thirty feet from the water.  

Each room had a small area just beyond the double sliding doors which allowed one to step outside and view the Sea of Galilee.  It is a beautiful place to view especially from about ten floors up.  Many people would get up at about 4:30 a.m. in order to watch the sun come up over the mountains on the other side of the sea in Jordan.  I wish that everyone could see that scene.  Needless to say, it is absolutely beautiful.  The Sea of Galilee and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I can see why God made it the way.  It could be because He knew that the ministry of Jesus would be centered in the area in due time.  

As I was standing there watching the sun come up and looking at that wonderful sea, I noticed something very interesting.  I watched as a small boy came to the edge of the water about ten floors below me.  He had a bucked in his hand that contained a small casting net.  This young fellow could not have been much over twelve years old but he had come to get breakfast for his family with that small bucket and casting net.  I watched with eager anticipation as he took that net, swung it around his head and cast it into the water of the Sea of Galilee.  When he pulled the net back in, he had a couple of small fish which he put in the bucket.  Again, he threw the net and again he had a small fish or two. After about two more casts, he folded up the net and put it in the bucket with his catch and then he trotted back up the street from which he came.  He was going home with breakfast.  I was reminded that the fishermen of Jesus’ day did exactly as this young boy had done.

When the young boy cast his net, he did not know what he was going to get.  He might get a fish known as St. Peter’s fish.  It is a very tasty perch which is in abundance in the Sea of Galilee.  Or, he might get some other kind of fish.  He simply didn’t know what his catch would be.  He was fishing with a net.  In my view, there is a profound spiritual lesson contained in this humble event I witnessed.  Jesus said that He would make “fishers of men” of all those who believed in Him and commit their lives to Him.  His way of fishing was not with a pole.  It was with a net.  When one fishes that way, they do not know what their catch will be.  They don’t say, “I’m going bass fishing or Bluegill bream fishing.  They are not aiming as a specific fish variety but are glad to get whatever swims into their net.   This is the way Jesus wants us to be as “fishers of men.”

In today’s world, fishermen usually go to a sporting goods store and purchase a particular kind of reel and rod.  They want equipment that is designed to catch the kind of fish the person desires to catch.  There are myriads of lures designed in various ways which will appeal to certain breeds of fish.  When fishing for bass a person will use his favorite rod and reel and his most prized plug which may be very successful and catching bass.  Striper equipment will vary but it is designed for Stripers.  Those people are being selective in what they are gearing up for.  But, the guy with the net, now that’s something different.  He doesn’t know what is going to come up out of the water. 

If we are going to follow the instructions of Jesus, our churches should be fishing for men with a net and not some specific kind of approach which will be focusing on particular kinds of people.  Whether someone is young or old should not matter.  Whether they have money or not should be of no concern.  A particular demographic should not be an issue.  But many of today’s churches, are “kingdom building” instead of functioning as the body of Christ and ministering to anyone who comes.  Instead, they are seeking certain kinds of people.  They prefer the young with a good paying job plus a family which contains several children.  Now, that’s a good catch! They will fit right in to what the leaders of the church are looking for.  Young, energetic, plenty of money and children to help fill up the programs of the church.  Boy! That’s a home run!  That’s exactly what kingdom builders do.  If a church is properly focused, catching fish with a net, they are happy to receive anyone the Lord sends to them.  The net does not pick and choose but receives all.  Kingdom builders fish with specific tools to catch specific kinds of fish (people).  God wants everyone and anyone.  He fishes with a net.

Another thing that the net does not do.  It does not cull out the older fish and focus on the younger ones.  Many times I hear that churches “do not care about the older people” but focus on the younger ones.  The Bible tells us to value the older people.  Why, they are the ones with the experience that is needed especially in the spiritual work of the Lord.  But, too many younger pastors and church leaders of today don’t want older people and barely notice them at all.  Remember, it is usually the older members who have built what the younger ones are now enjoying.  And they don’t mind that, but they would like to feel that they are still a part of the church and not basically ignored.  Whatever happened to the concept of the church as family.  Kingdom building pastors see the church as a corporation with a CEO that has a staff that does all he desires while that CEO is somewhat separated from the body of believers.  If a person chooses to leave the body or is transferred somewhere else, well, so what?  We will just get another to take their place.  It’s not going to hurt us.  Kingdom Builder.

What we need to understand is that the church is to be built by Jesus.  He said: “I will build my church.”  What we do most of the time is get in the way with our earthly approaches to building a spiritual body.

The method approved by Jesus is to fish with a net and take whatever we get.  He knows who we will get and he also knows those who will not enter our net.  The Lord will take care of what is caught and he will fashion His church out of the resources He gives us as we are Fishing With A Net.

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  1. I researched churches for 20 years. Was it true that Gpd wanted to close the small churches in favor of a mega church with a lot of programs? No. I found that the mega church geared their programs to the rich so they would have the money to pay their enormous staff. They had a lot of wonderful programs, but they congratulated themselves for paying staff to gather volunteers to help the least of these. I also found that if it were not for the small family church, a host of at-risk youth would not have a family to help them mature into responsible adults. Instead of mega churches sending their young into the city for a week, they should partner with a struggling small church in the city to learn how to really connect with the least of these. Jesus opened his arms to all who would come to Him whether the disciples approved or not.

    • You are very insightful and accurate. I congratulate you on your work to understand the situation. Smaller churches tend to minister at a deeper level. I think the mega church movement is dying and people are returning to a smaller church where they discover a deeper level of community. Thanks for your comment.
      Bill Harrell

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