Monday, January 25, 2010

Trans-Species Morphing

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19 NIV

I have a friend in British Columbia who is an elementary school teacher, but thinks, eats, dreams, breathes--fishing. Particularly salmon. At the birth of his first grandson, he told the weight and length of the newborn, which he described as "nice salmon size."

The last time I cast a line into Minnesota’s Rainy Lake, I was nine. My uncle David baited the hook with something squishy, and I caught a Northern pike, which my Aunt Helen cleaned. We ate it for dinner, and I choked on a bone. Ever since, I’ve disliked fishy-tasting food.

Recently, I attended a professional development seminar on fishing. It wasn’t about trout, bass, or salmon. It was about marketing. So often, we drop a line into the water and expect fish to fight each other for the honor of taking the hook (the hook being our product, donating to our ministry, or joining our cause). That’s absurd!

Christians who want to share the gospel and motivate others to join in service to humanity, should think like the fish we’re targeting. Go where the fish are. Use the lures the fish like, not what the fishermen like.

My pastor once taught that fishers are hunters, not agriculturalists. They know how to prepare nets, where to cast them, what kind of lure is needed, and where and when to expect the best results. They cooperate with other fishers. They know how to harvest and process the catch.

Those skills mastered, Jesus transformed His disciples from aggressive fish hunters to protective, providing shepherds, when He called Peter and his disciples to feed His sheep.

A church sign said: “Be ye fishers of men. You catch them—He’ll clean them.” That’s right. Catch new people for God’s kingdom. But don’t even think about reforming them to your image of a proper Christian. Let the Holy Spirit have His way with them and transform them from fish to sheep!

I’ve drawn strange metaphors here: fishermen morph into shepherds and fish morph into sheep. But it points up our inability to change anything or anyone. Only the Creator can do that work. By the way, where are you on the road from fish to sheep?

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