Matthew 4:12-23 tells how Jesus begins his public ministry.
Rather than selecting the right part of the right town of the right size to generate high visibility with corresponding publicity, he steps back to an area of little note in Galilee of the Gentiles.
Jesus withdraws. As the Very Reverend John D. Payne states:
“Engagement and falling back in no certain order. Encounter and escape. Going forward and then retreat. This is the unmistakable rhythm underlying the spiritual life of Jesus.” This is not unlike our own needed measured pace of advancing and pulling back. A quiet day is helpful. A few quiet moments in the midst of all other days is essential.
A life of discipleship is what comprises a journey of faith. We who call on the name of Christ have to learn like the first disciples, this journey is not simply for personal fulfillment. We are called to serve others. Only then can we experience the fulfillment the Spirit offers.
The initial step needed to serve others, to be fishers of people for Christ, is to check our gear. The mission is to bind people together to meet God and one another. The most powerful way to draw others is to show them a community of faith where the success/achievement focus based image from society is nonexistent.
The church is to be an oasis of caring where no one is trying to gain an edge, where people are not viewed as utility, obstacles or rivals.
Our fishing expeditions can assist others find a safe harbor where the ground is level and where people are united in the cords of Christly love.
The second portion required in order to fishers of people for Christ is put into play catch and release. There is a model people who fish follow whereby a catch is released back into the water where is it figured the fish is more valuable as a natural resource than on a plate or stuffed on a wall.
Jesus teaches us to fish for people - not “eat” them or “stuff” them and place them like a trophy. Let’s then think a moment about fishing and not devouring. The call within 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 atonement. Gospel and freedom go together.
To truly engage in the mission for Christ, our calling efforts must be characterized by passionate indifference. This comes across quite wryly in the writing of Father Payne. What this means is that our effort to spread a good word for Jesus must be passionately comprehensive, but it also must be indifferent to controlling the outcome from the other.
A final thought. To be effective in becoming fishers of people for Christ is to ring true as a one who genuinely fishes. It is quite problematic to introduce another to the Jesus if we are erratic in our own practice. What does it mean for a visitor brought to worship only to have the one who invited miss the next four?
In the words of Caleb from Numbers 13...Let us go at once, for we are well able.