The other day I took my kids to a local retreat center just north of town called Ashwood Palms to do some fishing in their ponds. My son has been asking me to take him fishing there since the last time we went which was about six months ago. When I told him our plans for the evening he was jumping up and down and shouting “WooHoo!”
We made all the necessary arrangements including a trip to Walmart to buy night crawlers. Then we got our gear together and made sure we had a snack for the venture. After that it was off to the fishing hole.
Our outing wasn’t about any particular type of fish. We weren’t even concerned with size. My hope for my son and my daughter was that they would simply catch fish, and lots of them.
They did just that! When they’d hook a fish there would be such excitement it heir little voices, and “WooHoo” seemed to be the word of the evening! Azariah and Sophia were congratulating each other like good sports. It didn’t matter that the fish they were catching were only inches long; they didn’t care about size. They were just excited to have the opportunity to fish and be catching.
I love seeing an excitement for fishing growing in the lives of my children.
There was once another group of fishermen who showed enthusiasm for their ventures. The group was Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They had heard John the Baptizer teaching in their area and had become followers of his, yet they had not neglected their duties as fishermen. The story that many people remember about this group is when Jesus told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat after they had caught nothing all the night before. When they did this they caught so many fish in one cast that they had to get a second boat to haul in all the fish.
They were excited. But this wasn’t the first time they had been excited in the presence of Jesus. When Jesus met Andrew, he was so excited about who Jesus was (the Messiah) that he ran to tell his brother the good news. When Jesus met another future disciple named Philip, it made him so excited that he ran to tell Nathaniel. This was the same guy that we read about later in the book of acts studying with an Ethiopian Eunuch.
These men were excited about Jesus, and he called them “Fishers of Men”.
I tell those stories because they have direct implications to each of us. In Matthew 28, Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples, baptizing them.” But he also gave them the charge to “teach them everything I have commanded you.” The disciples obeyed. A little over 50 days after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to preach. 3000 people were baptized that day, and the process of disciple making started.
We know that this command to “make disciples…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” was fulfilled through the disciples of Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2:2 we read discourse between Paul and Timothy, one of Paul’s disciples. He encourages Timothy to teach others who can then teach others. In that one verse four generations of disciples are represented.
Let me make one thing clear: this command is for each one of us.
The Christian music group Casting Crowns sings a song, “Here I Go Again” that has these lyrics: “here I go again talkin’ ’bout the rain and mulling over things that won’t live past today, and as I dance around the truth time is not his friend. This might be my last chance to tell him that You love him.”
The song is giving a great description of how we treat evangelism every day. Time after time we are presented with chances to talk to our friends and relatives about the love of Jesus, but instead we talk about the rain or work or kids or fishing or anything other than the saving message of grace in Christ.
I know all our reasons for shying back, but my question is this: if Jesus’ disciples were to make disciples that did the same things that they did, then if we aren’t spreading the message of Christ then can we really say we are disciples of Christ? This was a command, and it wasn’t “go make disciples, baptizing…and teaching some to obey.” This was a blanket statement for all of us.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all saw evangelism with the same kind of “WooHoo” excitement my children have for catching inedible fish?!
The story is told of an older man who went down to the beach after a storm to gather shells. When he got down there he found the sand littered with starfish. As he walked along in amazement at the sheer numbers he saw a lone child tossing starfish back in the sea. “Why are you doing that? There are so many you’ll never get them all! What does it matter? Why try?” The boy was unfazed, and as he picked up another starfish and tossed it back in the ocean he said, “it mattered to that one.”
Instead of being overwhelmed with numbers like the population of the earth or probability statistics, we are called to have the childlike enthusiasm that my children have. I know we can have that kind of enthusiasm too! Every time we see our child do something great we tell others with that kind of enthusiasm. Every time we get a new gadget we show it off with great enthusiasm.
You have been given life eternal through Christ regardless of your past. It was given to you freely with your baptism. Your friends and neighbors don’t have that gift, and they’re dying in their sins. You have the cure. Will you not tell them? Will you not offer them healing?
May we be people who re-evaluate our attitude toward the salvation we have received. May we then become downright giddy as we thank God for his saving grace, and may we be people who just can’t keep it in.
After the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when 3000 people were baptized into Christ the excitement was so prevalent that it took them only approximately a year to spread the message to the entire known world. When we catch this fire in this day when we are more connected than ever through texting and Facebook and twitter, we will change the world quickly as well. Let’s do just that!
If you have any questions or comments regarding this article, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at the office at 245-1611. You can also read all my previous articles at http://www.mrdobbs.org. God bless you, and spread the Word!