Fishermen vs. Fishers of Men

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I stood on the edge of the bank five feet above the water—feet were straddling  a stump and a small patch of turf as I stripped out the line and carefully as possible and cast the fly out into the current of the Chatanika River. The Adam’s Dry flyI was fishing with, a far cry from a quality tied fly, was probably among the first one I ever tied. But the grayling seemed interested in it. I saw a bubble of water where the fly was and started to set the hook.

Too fast.

Immediately I stopped my movement and left the fly in the water. A second later the grayling took it. Instinctively I set the hook and in a couple minutes landed a beautiful 15 inch grayling.

Several hours later, the fishing having slowed down, I sat  on a gravel bar and watched the river steadily and quietly gliding by. The wind whispered gently through the willows and birch trees, and the birds sang.

I thought about fishing and the words of Jesus to Peter about becoming “fishers of men.”

My whole life I have wrestled with the meaning of this. The connotation of “fishing” seems to imply deception. Fishing is essentially deceiving the fish to take a fly, spoon, bait, etc, that has a hook so you can catch them. That hardly seems Christ’s method in drawing people to himself, and it seems contrary to how Christians should approach spreading and sharing the gospel.

But Peter was a fisherman, and Christ always spoke to people in terms and analogies they could relate to. Perhaps Jesus’ words to Peter where meant specifically for Peter. I am beginning to think that what he meant when he called Peter to “fish for men” was for Peter to change the purpose of his profession, his life. Up until then, Peter’s livelihood was a fisherman. Fishing was his life and how people identified him. Now Christ was calling him to change the identity of his life to people.

For Peter, that meant a complete change in profession. But what does that mean for us? Is our life identified by our job? Or is it identified by people, by sharing the gospel, making disciples, encouraging others—preparing this world for God’s Kingdom?  For some of us, Jesus’ call for us to a new livelihood might mean completely changing our profession. For other’s it might just mean changing our perspective and attitude about our job—going about our work with a different mindset.

But the question is, how far are you willing to go, to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ?

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