There is a parable in the Bible about casting a fishing net. The meaning of parables can be challenging even for those with ears to hear. As a minister, pastor, speaker, teacher, often the challenge is to get folks to listen and be engaged. If an individual has a hearing difficulty it is easy to understand why they might not always hear everything being said. Whereas, if one has ears the perception is that there are no hindrances. The Bible often encourages those with ears to hear so this makes sense right?
I have never been much of one for fishing. I just don’t have the patience to sit there and wait for a bite. On the other hand I have been fishing enough to know that just because you are going bass fishing doesn’t mean you won’t catch some other type of fish. The fact of the matter is when it comes to casting our nets for fishing often times we will pull things in that have nothing at all to do with fishing.
Have you ever gone fishing to only reel in a tree branch? There could be a book written about those experiences not to mention all the times our line was just hung up and after pulling, casting, jerking, we just decided to cut the line and cut our losses.
As Christians who are suppose to be casting our nets because we are fishers of men. The option for us to accept the attitude of defeat and surrender by cutting our losses is not one of our options. In every protestant denomination that I am aware of, the yearly reports of professions of faith, baptisms and church membership continues to decline. There are lots of reasons denominational leadership will provides to explain the lowering numbers year after year.
My personal observation is that while denominations are declining in memberships and individuals identifying themselves with particular faiths continues to decline there are ministries where their numbers are growing. One of the keys to this growth in particular churches is that for the most part, these churches and ministries are not focused on the numbers. The focus is on people, not numbers. There is nothing wrong with counting those in attendance, or maintaining a membership role. The disconnection for most church is in the practice of the parable regarding casting our nets. The next disconnection is not liking what we are discovering in our nets!
In the parable of casting a fishing net, Jesus was reminding us that when one goes fishing we should be prepared to see all kinds of things in our nets, including things we have no intentions of catching. As a Christian and follower of Jesus we cannot become discouraged by the things of life and give up on our task, duty and responsibility to cast our nets. Even in the harvest activities of life there is much work to do. Christians must become vigilant in all things relating to casting our nets. We must be aware of rips and tears in our nets that require maintenance. We must keep an eye on the weather reports so we don’t get caught up in a storm unprepared. We must also listen to what others are sharing about locations and techniques they use to help them become successful in fishing. All the while, the biggest key is to keep on casting our nets.
As Christians we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others because we are active in the practice of casting our nets. The real opportunity of the harvest is not knowing what we are going to catch but rather that we just keep casting our nets. The final practice of our faith with respect to casting our fishing nets is our faith that Jesus is the perfect person to do the sorting when we pull in our nets. Don’t become distracted by difficulties or the catch. Rather be encouraged that if we do our part, Jesus will absolutely do His. Happy net casting!