Summary: Check your lures.
The Foolish Fisherman – A Modern Parable
Bob was a fisherman. He was a great fisherman. He lived, ate, and breathed fishing. He told everybody about his love for fishing and tried to get everyone involved in fishing. Some tried it and some only listened, but nothing deterred Bob from his love.
Bob had plenty of trophies and pictures of all the fish he ever caught. He knew all the techniques and had all the lures. He even wrote a book that was popular with all the fishermen and was featured in fishing magazines and newspapers. He even inspired one fisherman to write song about fishing. Yes, Bob was quite an expert and had reason to be proud.
Bob was the king. His favorite place always produced the yield he wanted. He never returned home empty handed. Bob was happy and fulfilled.
One day Bob went fishing and felt there was something different about the place. He had been busy with conferences and newspaper articles and had not been able to get there for awhile, but that should not have mattered. After all, he had been fishing here for fifty years and it did not matter whether he was there every weekend, every day of his vacation or only once a month, it was always the same. Yet, something was different.
What Bob did not realize that the water temperature of the pond had changed due to pollution and all the fish he once caught were gone. The owner of the pond restocked the pond with other kinds of fish that were hardy enough to resist changes to the pond and would refill the pond quickly.
This was great because the pond would still be profitable to fisherman, but they would have to change their style of fishing and their lures. These new fish would not be attracted by the old lures because it did not appeal to their appetites and the way it was delivered did not incite their feeding frenzy.
Many of the fishermen knew this and adapted and continued to have great success. Some folks wanted the pond to be plowed over and they just learned how to catch the fish and then let them die on the ground. Others fearing the end of the fish caught them and gave them an injection that would make them resist the lures and not get caught again. Truly, things had changed. The whole place was engulfed in turmoil and would never be the peaceful place it once had been.
Yes, change happened, but Bob did not. He had seen and felt the changes. He had read about the cause for the change and some the chaos and destruction caused by the haters of the sport. Still, he said, “All that does not matter, I have had great success with my methods and my lures and I shall again.” He changed nothing. He watched fish die on the ground. He had heard of an antidote for the fish that had been inoculated and he watched his former friends take home many fish. Yes, former friends, because when Bob’s friends changed their ways, he accused them of betrayal to the fundamentals of fishing and he threw stones at them and mocked them as they carried away their catch.
Bob carried away very little. Sometimes his lure caught a dead fish floating by or a sick one that was biting at anything. Now and then, he would catch a healthy fish. His anger at his former friends and his refusal to accept the change deluded him into thinking he was right and that his ways were still catching fish and his methods would ultimately prevail. Bob fished that way for ten more years. The number of fish in the pond grew, but he caught less and less and finally he caught none at all.
Bob died believing that he was right. His trophies were old and dusty and the articles he wrote and was mentioned in yellowed and disintegrated. Had he not been so foolish, he could have went to his grave with fresh victories. They might even have put him a textbook or the Fishermen’s Hall of Fame.
Jesus said that He would make us fishers of men and there are many Bobs within the Church. They sit under men that have been successful soulwinners in the past and they accept the methods and lures as written in stone or as laws of the Medes and Persians that can never be changed. These Bobs throw rocks at any that would change the methods. They will refuse to see the changes in the pond or the fish.
These men are foolish fishermen. The only thing that remains constant is the Gospel and the need to fish. Paul said he became all things to all men that he might by any means win some. Gasp! Paul used different methods with different types of people. He even claimed his Roman citizen when it was profitable to his mission. What a coward! He should have stuck to his Hebrew heritage and let the Romans be hanged. He spoke of Moses to the Hebrews even when we were no longer under the law. He quoted Cretians and took advantage of the altar to the unknown God to gain an audience for the truth. He circumcised Timothy so as not to have the Hebrews tune him out because of a non-essential issue.