“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Matthew 4:19 ESV
Two weeks ago I challenged you to discover the meaning of a parable. It was a story about an earthworm that escaped the jaws of death, being pulled to safety by an impatient angler. Herein is the interpretation of the tale:
The worm on the hook is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The boy holding the pole is the Christian and the lake is the world of men. The lad who was fishing never saw the hungry trout approaching the worm. If he had, he would have been known that he was not fishing in an “empty hole.” He would have allowed the worm to do its job and then patiently waited for the bite.
The gospel is the power of God leading to the salvation of man. Its message of redemption has not lost any of its effect. Our confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ must not be dependent on results. God is always working in the lives of those around us, whether we see it or not, and He takes full responsibility for building His church.
Years ago, I worked for a vending company, filling snack machines. One of my stops was a welding shop. It was a rough environment, filled with tough, leathery men. It was not uncommon to have sandwich machines broken into if the correct change was not given. I made it my practice to leave gospel tracts at each of my stops. One day, while servicing the machines at the welding shop, a large man approached me. To say he was intimidating would be an understatement. He asked me, in a gruff voice, if I had been leaving the tracts around the shop. I mustered up all the strength within me and replied that I had. I prepared myself to duck. He simply smiled, and said that last night he had gotten saved as a result of reading the pamphlet. I breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated him.
I’m convinced that that experience is the exception; not the rule. It was a thrill to see the fruit of sowing the gospel in that man’s life, but more times than not, we are not privy to the moment. Most of the time, we do not see the power of the gospel at work, and that was my point in the parable. I believe that the Lord hides most of His work in the lives of those around us, so that we will keep our eyes on Him, not His work. As we follow Him, He makes us to become fishers of men, but the moment we focus of the fishing expedition, we take our eyes off of Christ. Evangelism is best served when we stop trying to catch men and simply follow the One who fishes for men. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, regarding his own salvation, “The great Angler was playing His fish, and I never knew that the hook was in my mouth.”