Fishers of Men
Christian, do you consider yourself to be part of a grand story?
I wonder how many Christians sit on the sideline of life, neither expecting nor wanting God to put them into the game.
But Christians are more than benchwarmers who receive a championship trophy (a ticket to heaven) merely because they are part of the victorious team.
Our Biggest Need
Sin separates us from God. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not only from our sin, but also from its consequences, most notably, separation from God now and in eternity.
Christians become children of God from the moment of salvation. We should expect a close relationship with Him in this life. We dwell with God, learn his ways, learn his purpose for us and obey him.
What Does Jesus Call Us To?
When Jesus calls you and me to follow him, he does not call us to a life concerned mostly with the things of this world (Matthew 6:32-33), but to an abundant life where we work alongside Jesus in his kingdom. Jesus does not call us to a lackadaisical life marked by a half-hearted and reluctant obedience but to a life marked by zeal to do good works (Titus 2:14) that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). He calls us to make the most of our time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).
What Task Has Jesus Given Us?
If we are to work alongside Jesus, we must know our purpose, our mission, given to us by Jesus.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, he immediately told them that he would make them fishers of men. Their new job description, their new purpose that he would later explain to them, was related to his purpose for coming from heaven to earth (Luke 19:10). When we start a new job it is important to know what the job entails. When we are born again and start a new life in Christ, it is even more important to know what this new life is all about.
It is significant that the first thing Jesus told his disciples (become fishers of men) and the last thing he told his disciples described their purpose. In Mathew 28:18-20 Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Is not our purpose to make disciples who make disciples? If we are to make disciples we must first be disciples.
It is God Who Works In You
When we are born again, our priority becomes to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
As disciples, we must no longer be conformed to the image of this world but to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This is God’s purpose for us—we, as children of God, must become like Jesus. This transformation is God’s doing.
God is working in us and completing this work (Philippians 1:6). (Ephesians 4:23-24). However, this does not mean we need to wait until we have reached some pre-determined level of spiritual maturity before we can start making disciples. We can start right away. But just as our personal transformation is God’s doing, so is the expansion of Jesus’ kingdom (Philippians 2:12-13). Without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). Go and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom when Jesus sends you. See Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-12.
From Eternity Past
Making disciples is indeed a grand purpose. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. In eternity past, before the foundation of the world, God the Father said to God the Son:
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. Psalm 2:8 (NASB)
Did Jesus make this request to the Father? Evidently he did. Jesus speaks of those whom the Father has given him:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” —Mt. 10:28-30
God the Father gave Jesus disciples:
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. —John 17:6
Jesus’ disciples would go on to make disciples who are also given to Jesus by God the Father:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.—John 17:20-24
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That God would allow us to participate in his purposes is an astonishing privilege.
Ambassadors for Christ
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
—2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Here we see the amazing privilege we have to spread the gospel—our purpose intertwined with God’s purpose. Anyone who is in Christ has been qualified and commissioned by him to carry the message of reconciliation to the world. That’s you. That’s me.
As ambassadors we have the responsibility to share the gospel, to represent the kingdom of God to the kingdom of this world. Too often I have been content to support other ambassadors for Christ through giving, leaving evangelism to them. It’s good to support other Christians as they labor in the kingdom. But, when Jesus implores his disciples to pray for workers of the harvest (Matthew 9:36-38) what proof do we have that someone else is the object of those prayers and not us?
Become fishers of men.