By Joe Alain
Monday, August 01, 2005
It wasn't that the disciples had not tried to catch fish. They toiled all night. It wasn't that the disciples did not have the right equipment. They had the best tackle. It wasn't even the time of day that was the problem. It takes more than toiling, more than tackle, and more than time. If you are fishing in the wrong place none of that matters.
Fishing or "Wetting a Line"
Without the presence of fish the disciples were simply "wetting a line." There are really two kinds of fisherman. Some fish to catch fish. They are not satisfied unless the ice chest is full at the end of the day. Anything less is almost considered a failure. Then there are those who are recreational fishermen. They are more interested in the experience than they are catching fish. They are satisfied with just getting out for the day and "wetting a line." If they catch a few fish that's fine but if they don't, they still enjoy the trip.
What may be enjoyable as a recreational pastime is deadly from a spiritual perspective. The church (followers of Jesus) is called to be "fishers of men," yet often we may just be "wetting a line." We may have little concern if we have the right approach. We may have little concern if we are fishing in the right place. Worst of all, we may have little concern if we catch any fish!
What's in Your Ice Chest?
Could it be that maybe one reason some folks aren't to quick to see too many people coming into the church is the same reason some of us don't care if we catch too many fish at the lake? Fish are messy! If I catch a mess I have a mess to clean when I get home. It's much easier to just "wet my line" and sit a spell under the cypress tree, eat my sandwich and twinkie, and sip on my Bargs Root Beer. It doesn't take much effort to fish and not catch anything. But it does take some effort to fish like you really want to fill your ice chest.
The question for us is what kind of "fishers of men" are we? Are we content to practice casting our weighted line in the backyard? Or are we truly after some fish and will do whatever it takes to catch some? Of course it's easier to just "wet a line" and say we're fishing, and so the church today has mastered the art of fishing without ever really catching much. Instead of fishing for men and women we often busy ourselves by attending fishing seminars, telling fish stories, or fixing up the fishing camp (the church house), contented with the thought that because our tree appears green we must be fruitful, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. It has been a well publicized statistic in my denomination that 70% of our churches are plateaued or declining. This begs the question, "Are we truly fishing or just wetting a line?" In many instances, our fishing today consists mainly of fishing for children of church members in the safe church pond or transferring fish from one church ice chest to another one down the street. Few churches are impacting the pagan pool and reaching their God — given potential!