Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bait for the World?

Matthew 4:18-20

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

When we as Christians read these verses where Jesus calls Simon Peter and Andrew to be not just a fisherman, but a fisher OF men, we tend to create for ourselves a convenient metaphor explaining the process of being “fishers of men”. It might look something like this – Christ calls us to be fishers of men, which means that while we are in God’s boat (the church) we see non-Christians lost and floundering in the sea of the world, so we cast out our baited lines and draw them in so God may save them. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, this convenient metaphor presents a problem. Many Christians say that what we have in Christ can be bent in just a way so that it looks cool and desirable to the world, so that we can use the things of God to bait the unsaved. That word, bait, makes me think of trickery. Do we have to disguise the Word of God with some tasty bit of the world so that we can get our hooks in the minds of the lost? Why do we as Christians feel that what we have needs to be changed, covered over, or sugar coated in order for the world to want it?

I believe that this is one of the reasons why new converts often witness to more unsaved people in their first month of serving Christ than many other Christians do in their entire lives. New converts have a fresh passion, recent experiences of the truth of God’s grace, and they feel no need to gloss over Christianity and package it for the world.

As children of God, we have been entrusted with the precious Word of God. It is a treasure that is to be faithfully guarded and truthfully presented. Yet despite the fact that God trusts us with His amazing truth, we grab bits and pieces of the world, sprinkle them among our messages and say “Look! We can be just as cool as you! Don’t you want to be one of us now?”

Why would someone desire something that they already have? The unsaved, the lost, the lonely, and the hurting are looking for something to satisfy them. They search among any number of things, and while Jesus Christ is the only One who can provide lasting satisfaction, we take that truth away from them when we create a “cool” Christianity. They will not know true freedom in Christ if we continue to present the Christian faith as simply everyday life plus church. We say “It’s ok, as a Christian you’ll be able to wear clothes like that, just with different logos. You can listen to the same music, just different lyrics.” How will that ever draw them?! They are seeking something new, something different, something truly satisfying.

Our metaphor needs to be cleared up.

For a moment, get rid of the image you have in your mind of that typical fisherman in the yellow coat, sitting on the edge of his boat with a fishing line. If you notice, all throughout the gospels that when we see the disciples fishing, it is nighttime (as in Luke 5:5 “…we have fished all night…”). In those times, they fished at night by shining a light at the water. As the bright light pierced the thick darkness of the evening and shone into the water, the fish were quickly drawn to the surface toward the light. These fishermen didn’t bait their fish; they simply showed them what they had – light. The fish came to the surface when the light became visible and the disciples (or any fisherman at this time) were then able to gather them up in their nets.

Matthew 5:14-16 says “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” God is calling us to be His light, to shine through the darkness in the world that presses in on all sides. When the lost see that light, when they see our passion as we live out our love for Him and do not serve the world, then they will want what we have. We just have to stop living our lives attempting to be accepted and cool in the eyes of the world, baiting them with watered down Christianity. Live as one who is truly set apart, one who holds the answers!

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