Matthew 4:12-23 tells how Jesus begins his public ministry. Instead of launching it with a well-publicized evangelistic crusade in a good location, Jesus pulls back and goes to the benighted region of the Galilee of the Gentiles.
Jesus withdraws, he pulls back. Engagement and retreat. Encounter and escape. Going forward and falling back. This is the unmistakable rhythm underlying the spiritual life of Jesus. Our spiritual lives also need this same rhythm of going forward and pulling back. A retreat or quiet day is helpful.
During his time of retreat, Jesus learns through divine guidance he cannot do his kingdom ministry alone. He will need some helpers. The first thing Jesus does is call four fishermen to discipleship. Jesus' summons is with irresistible authority and the four fishermen respond with radical obedience—they leave everything and follow Jesus.
The life of discipleship is what the journey of faith is all about. We have to learn like the first disciples the journey is not simply for personal fulfillment. We are called to serve others.
The first thing we need to do in order to be fishers of people for Christ is check out our gear. The mission is to bind people together to meet God and one an other. The best way to draw folks in is to show them a community of faith where there is an island of caring where no one is trying consciously to get the edge on any one else, where folks are not viewed as objects, obstacles or rivals, where everyone is judged by grace and not by the mathematical standards of the culture. Our fishing expeditions can help other people find a safe harbor where the ground is level and where folks are united in the bond of peace and Christly love.
The second thing we need to do in order to become fishers of people for Christ is to practice catch and release. There is a trend in fishing called "catch & release." The idea is the fish are more valuable in the water than on an angler's dinner table or mounted on a wall. Jesus tells us to fish for people—not to "eat" them. So let us think for a minute about "fishing" and not "devouring."
Let us never forget that the call of the gospel is always a call to freedom. It is initially a freedom from some kind of bondage to a freedom for grace, love, and redemption. The Gospel and freedom go together.
If we really want to engage in the mission of Christ, then our evangelism must be characterized by passionate indifference. This means is our effort to spread the good news must be 100%, but it also must be indifferent to controlling our effort’s outcome. We've got to give God plenty of room as well as those we wish to hook.
Another thing to be done in becoming fishers of people for Christ is to ring true as a fisherperson. It is very difficult to introduce someone to the practice of religion if we are indifferent in our own practice. What does it really say to a guest if you bring them to church one Sunday and then you miss the next several?
It is exciting to help participate in the building of the kingdom here at FCCI. Engage and withdraw. Jesus calls you to go beyond personal fulfillment and to serve others.