You have no doubt heard the phrase “bucket list.” It is a list of things a person would like to do before they “kick the bucket” or die.
About ten years ago, my wife and I got to check an item off our list which was going to Israel. Very generously and graciously, our church gifted us with this trip to the Holy Land. I love looking at pictures of the Holy Land, studying maps, etc., but to actually see the places mentioned in the Bible was truly amazing, and then to walk in some of the same places that Jesus walked was inspiring. One of the most interesting places in Israel is the Sea of Galilee. We took a boat ride from Tiberius to Capernaum, and several evenings we had worship services right on the beach. One of the things I found most interesting on that boat ride was a demonstration of how people fished the Sea of Galilee during Jesus’ day. Our guide not only showed us how they cast the nets, but also gave interesting information describing the kinds of fish in those waters, their tendencies, the best time to catch them, and various skills needed to make the big catch. We ended the day in a restaurant eating some of the fish caught that day from the Sea of Galilee. I will never forget looking down at that fish lying horizontal on my plate with his eye staring up at me. I then watched as a fellow traveler dug the eye out and proceeded to eat it, saying it was the best part. As you might guess, I cannot and will never confirm the veracity of that statement!
The whole experience made me think about fishing, not fishing for fish, rather fishing for men. As you know every person is either a fish needing to be caught for Jesus, or a fisherman, a born-again believer that should be fulfilling Christ’s mandate to be “fishers of men.”
As fishers of men, we should also know certain aspects and proclivities of our fish, and the best way to catch them. No doubt much has been written on that subject, but I want to mention two truths that seem to apply to literal fish, and the fishing we do for the souls of men. Ichthyologists, who are individuals who study fish, tell us that while there are thousands of differing species of fish, they all have two things in common. First of all, most fish don’t see very well except up close, and secondly, they don’t have eyelids, so they never close their eyes.
As spiritual fishermen I think we can apply those two truths to fishing for souls. As we seek to share the Gospel, we need to make a sincere effort to “get close” to the lost people around us. I certainly am in favor of evangelistic meetings, revivals, and camps where a wide net is cast out seeking to catch people for Christ. However, what we must teach and train people in our churches to do is to get close, develop relationships, pursue friendships, let people see the light and love of the Gospel in our life. To “get close” will take time, effort, and certain sacrifices in order to build those kinds of relationships, but the opportunity to “catch” them for Christ is so much greater when we “get close.” The warm, casual greeting in our churches is important, but encouraging believers to “get close” to the lost people around us with the intention of catching them for Christ must be a priority.
The second truth about fish never closing their eyes reminds us that a lost world always has their eyes open, watching to see if our faith is truly genuine and worthy of their attention. Yes, some will look with a critical eye hoping to find flaws, but many have their eyes wide open wanting to know if what we have is real. As they examine our lives, and we make that effort to get closer, what they will find is not perfection, rather that all God’s children are sinners saved by grace, seeking to live a life that brings honor and glory to this wonderful and merciful God Who has saved us. So, remember, lost folks are always watching, and we must be faithful to share with them what we have in Christ, and to do so, we need to “get close.” Now, how about we do some fishing!