Summary: A message to encourage listeners to become more active `fishers of souls.’
On the Great Barrier Reef off the east coast of Australia, there is obviously an abundance of fish. They are all shapes and sizes. It’s a fisherman’s paradise. There is only one problem, it is a conservation area and no fishing is allowed. Maybe you have experienced the same frustration at times.
It raises the question "Has a conservation order been placed on our local district. No fishing, No soul winning, No witnessing?" In many ways it would seem so. Yet Christ has called us to be "fishers of people" so what are we to do?
Have we forgotten how to fish for souls?
I) FISHING TAKES SKILL
Even the most well equipped fisherman who knows just where and when to go fishing can turn up empty handed. Look at Peter, he’d been out all night and had caught nothing. So Jesus tells him to put out into deep water and let down the nets once more. Peter was not yet a disciple of Jesus yet he put his trust in him and set out again.
It struck me as I was reading Luke 5 that Jesus told Peter to specifically put out into deep water. He could have said "Just throw the nets in from the shore" and still provided them with a big catch. However, there seems to be a metaphor here. Let me explain.
There was a point when I was a young Christian where I could have counted my non Christian friends on one hand. I’d say that this put me well and truly in the shallow water. Please don’t misunderstand me, I really value my Christian friends but the Lord has called us to put out into deep water. It pays to pause and take stock of our own personal lives at regular intervals because it’s so easy to get tied up in the practicalities and administration of Church life and forget who we are actually ministering to.
Jesus has called us to put out into deep water and this is reason enough to do so.
You may believe that you are already in deep water. Maybe Church on Sunday is the only time you meet with Christian friends. I hope it isn’t, I hope that you are at least involved in a home fellowship group also.
Well if you are in deep water metaphorically speaking then Jesus has called you to now "let down the nets." This will mean something different to each of us. Maybe your being called to start a Christian fellowship group within your workplace? Maybe a work mate has shown an interest in joining you at church? Maybe you’ve had an opportunity to invite a friend to tennis on Saturdays.
Jesus has given us the ultimate example of how we ought to approach our own personal ministries. If we were to examine his ministry we would discover that it had a two pronged approach. On the one hand he spent time, in private, teaching and socialising with his disciples. On the other hand he taught the word of God to thousands in a very public way and he had no qualms about mixing with people no matter who they were.
II) THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL
Unlike Jesus many of us make excuses for not putting out into deep water and letting down the nets. We may be discouraged because of past failures. Like Peter we may say "We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught a thing."