And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’
Jack and his brother grew up as street fighters. Between this and taking bets on the side, they made enough to survive. They even had enough to drown their pain in beer at the local pub. His marriage was like a war zone. Sometimes in one of their heated arguments, his wife would throw knives or plates at him. By God’s mercy, Jack and his wife repented and turned their lives over to Jesus at an evangelistic meeting. He was in his early forties.
An individual from church took an interest in him and began discipling him, intentionally. Gradually, he began to flourish as he began to ‘practice’ (see Matthew 7:24-27) the teachings of Jesus, which the dictionary defines as the repeated application of an idea or belief until it becomes habitual.
One of the things he practiced was sharing his faith with others. The life changing message of love and hope through Jesus was too important to keep to himself. He felt that God wanted him to sit on the steps of a university and share ‘randomly’ the gospel with students. Oh, I forgot to tell you that he had never been to high school! Incredibly, God used him to lead many students to Jesus but there were four he invested in.
All four graduated, three of them with PhD’s. Two of the PhD students subsequently became professors and long-term missionaries, while the third became a pastor. The fourth led a Christian organisation.
Sally, an introvert is a warm individual who is brilliant at noticing people’s names in shops and then going out of her way to love and encourage them. One day she found herself last in a queue at a shop. The service had been slow and some of the people ahead of her were irritable, restless and complaining, out loud. Sally decided that she was going to respond differently.
She complimented the cashier’s appearance and manner and found out her name was Marie. Sally asked if that was her mum’s name as well. Marie said that she had been named after a wonderful Christian woman her parents had known. She went on to tell Sally that she only attended church twice a year and had been wondering lately if that was ‘all there was to being a Christian!’. They decided to catch up at another time to continue the conversation where Marie confided that she had no idea why she had mentioned going to church but that she had been moved and disarmed by the way Sally treated her that she just opened up to her.
‘Becoming fishers of men’ is not on my bucket list and I suspect, it is not on yours either but Jesus has summoned us to become one. But more importantly, Jesus has promised to teach us to become one and I take incredible comfort and strength from that.
Let’s practice becoming fishers of men then and we can start by just being genuinely interested in people, making time to listen to their stories and being ready to share Jesus or pray when the opportunities arise. We can be natural and intentional about this at the same time. And who knows what will happen next!