Fishers of Men
We stand by the shore of a great sea of human life swarming with the souls of men. Some of us hardly seem to notice the ocean, and are indifferent to the roar of its waves. Others, thank God, have heeded the Master's call of “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4: 19), and launched out in search of a catch of men, women and children for Christ. Some have big boats, like Peter on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2: 41), and are hauling in thousands in their nets. Others, perhaps only with a line and rod, are doing sterling work with ones and twos––the individual work that so characterised Andrew, Peter’s brother. Of course, not all are preachers or evangelists, but all should be seeking in their measure to “do [the] work of an evangelist” (2 Tim 4: 5).
How do we become an effective fisher of men? ‘Young man’ says a friend ‘Go to Bible College’. ‘Young man’ says Christ ‘Come after me, and I will make you a fisher of men’! The great training school for the Christian worker has Christ at its head. “Come after me” is a very exclusive call, and means that no one can become a fisher of men by any other process.
What does it mean to come after Christ? It means to follow Him, to walk in His steps, and to act in the way that He acted. The effect of this will be that I will become like Him––and there is no more effective tool in the salvation of precious souls than a man who is like the Saviour of whom he speaks. If I feel called to an apprenticeship in fishing, then I must take it up with the master fisherman Himself. It is only at His feet that I can learn my trade.
Some have purchased silk lines and expensive rods, and can speak very eloquently, but never seem to win any souls. They fish, but take nothing. By contrast, a man may be very rough and ready, preaching a very simple message with a warm heart, and straightaway men are converted to God. He is the man that has sat in the school of Christ! How do we know? Because his work is effective. He that never catches any fish is not a fisherman at all.
Fishing is an act of faith. The fisherman cannot see the fish––yet he looks for success every time he puts the net down. So it is with the fisher of men. He cannot tell who will heed his message and who will not, and nor does he know whether the haul will be heavy or light. He expects to catch fish, however, otherwise he would not have gone out fishing. As a man of faith he believes that God will guide him in the casting of the net, for to the natural eye, the right side of the boat looks much the same as the left (see John 21: 6). We shall return home weary and empty–handed unless we recognise that it must be “at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5: 5).
To be a fisher of men is not an easy calling. I may be out all hours and in all weathers. I may be battered by waves of opposition, and many a faithful labourer has gone out never to return. Oh it would be so much easier to stay on the shore, warm and comfortable, indifferent to the world at our feet. What kind of Christianity is this? Rest and comfort we shall have one day, but not now. Now is the time for work, to “Go into all the world, and preach the glad tidings to all the creation” (Mark 16: 15). How can we stay silent and inactive after meeting “the Saviour of the world” (John 4: 42)?