Monday, February 27, 2017

Go Fish! Having a Heart Like Jesus for Evangelism

"While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." (Matthew 4:18–22)

One day as Jesus walked by the lakeshore He thought about the symbolism of the Sea of Galilee. It was a large, lovely lake, ringed by villages, nestled in the hollow of the hills, but Jesus saw more than blue water and bobbing boats. To His perceptive mind that lake represented the world. Watching the boats floating in the water, he thought of the local churches He would establish in the world. As He saw fisherman, He thought of His followers. The nets represented His evangelistic appeal, claiming souls for eternal life. Coming upon some fishermen that day, Jesus issued the first invitation in the New Testament: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

One of the questions I’d like to ask the Great Physician, were it possible, is why we are not winning more of our friends, relatives, and associates to Christ? Why are we not better witnesses? According to (now-dated) surveys by George Barna, only about half (53 percent) of born again Christians feel a sense of responsibility to tell others about their faith. In other words, nearly half of us don’t think it’s our personal responsibility to share our beliefs with those who don’t know Christ. But this couldn't be farther from the truth! In reality...

1. We’re To Be Followers of Christ. Jesus spoke much about our following Him. The word “follow” occurs 92 times in the Gospels (NKJV).
  • “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38).
  • He told the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21)
  • He evangelized Levi the tax-collector with just two words: “Follow Me” (Luke 5:27).
  • “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
  • “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
  • His last words to Peter were similar to His first words: “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22).
Following Christ means we make Him Lord of our daily lives, seek out His promises and claim them, seek out His commands and obey them, and offer ourselves as living sacrifices for Him (Rom. 12:1–2).

2. We’re To Be Fashioned By Christ. “... and I will make you.” The parallel account (Mark 1:17) says: “I will make you to become....” As we follow Christ, He makes us to become. He begins to carve us into His type of people.
A school teacher who was bypassed for a promotion went to her administrator and complained, “I have twenty years of experience, and you promoted someone who had only been teaching five years.” The administrator replied, “No, you don’t have twenty years of experience. You have one year of experience twenty times. You’re still teaching the same things and in the same way you did your first year. You haven’t grown in your profession.”
Christ wants us to grow, to develop, to become effective representatives of Himself.

3. We’re to be Fisherman for Christ. “...I will make you fishers of men.”
Some years ago the New York Fire Department had a great parade. Included were buses loaded with people from all walks of life. The sign said: “All of these were saved by our Fire Department from burning buildings.”
In Paul’s letters, he said that those he had won to Christ were his crown and joy, his trophies of grace.
How can we be better witnesses for Christ?
  • Ask God to give you a burden for a handful of people who need to be saved, and begin praying for them.
  • Live a consistent Christian life, letting others see the hope within you.
  • Be ready when asked to give a reason for that hope (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Seize opportunities for inviting others to church. If you invite enough people, some will come. And if enough come, some will be saved.