When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him and become “fishers of men”, this was more than just picturesque speech! He was giving them a word picture that would serve them the rest of their days. Let´s examine this situation a bit more closely: And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:17)

The first thing that comes to my mind is the teamwork involved in fishing. Remember when Simon Peter called to his partners, (the future Sons of Thunder) James and John, to help them bring in the great catch. Their nets were breaking and the boats were so full that they began to sink. Working shoulder to shoulder these fishermen brought in the catch of the lives. The question we need to ask ourselves is: “Are we fishing with nets or fishing with cane poles?  Are we working shoulder to shoulder, on a daily basis, with others to bring in the catch or do we tend to wander off on our own or wait for the “experts” to do their thing?"

Surely Jesus envisioned a team working side-by-side to “catch men”, each operating in their strengths, everyone doing their part. These "nets" express a New Testament lifestyle of oneness so powerful that the world would see it and would become believers (see John 17)!

About 3 years ago I read a quote that has really stayed with me:

“We need to create communities of love to triumph over the indifference of sinners!”

Isn´t that beautiful! The indifference of sinners is actually the stronghold of Satan in people´s lives. Indifference leads down a dangerous path. What causes indifference in people? –  Pride: hardness of heart.-  Love of "other things": pleasures and possessions.-  Addictions: drugs, sex, sports, TV.-  Sects, cults (Masons): compromising with the truth.-  Tragedy: cancer, early deaths by accidents. Remember that in all this the devil doesn’t play fair. He kicks you when you’re down! But I think again of Jesus´ call to become “fishers of men” and see the nets as small groups of people who commit to share their lives together to catch indifferent men and women.

People will see what they want to see.

To be good fishermen we must work hard together to throw our nets out as far as we can. Nets weren’t meant to be show pieces in an art gallery but used deep under the sea with slimy fish! Our "nets" (small groups) help create a safe place for others, providing an atmosphere of love and acceptance where we experience the Christian life.

Still, people are people, and they will see what they want to see! I  think of Jesus at Lazarus´ tomb (John 11). As Jesus wept amongst His disciples at the death of His friend, the Jews saw something that astonished them: "Behold, how He loved him!" Others could see nothing but a theological debate: "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have kept this man from dying?" Many believed that day! Others left unchanged. Some left even more hardened– “But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done…So from that day on they planned to kill Him!” (John 11:46,53)

Our small group is a net set to spring on unsuspecting (but loved) fish. The results are with the Lord! Our job is to be salt and light, helping others taste and see the goodness of God. Many of us err, however, in setting the bar too high for non-believers. We think our only common ground is a Bible study!  Mark my words: In many cases, “evangelistic Bible studies” are an oxymoron! Rather, your net could be thrown out at a backyard BBQ for your child´s birthday. Or at “Fun Night” in your neighbourhood with cards, games and homemade ice cream (that´ll bring in the men!).

As Pastor Cho from Korea tells us (pastor of one of the largest church in the world): “Find a need and meet it! We have 50,000 cell groups and each group will love two people to Christ within the next year. They select someone who’s not a Christian, whom they can pray for, love, and serve. They bring meals, help sweep out the person’s store—whatever it takes to show they really care for them. After three or four months of such love, the hardest soul softens up and surrenders to Christ .”   

Get into the habit of “net-fishing” and start to invite people into your small group setting today so that they can see the Kingdom of God is here.

Yours for the least in the Kingdom,

Jeff Gilbertson

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