Consider your awesome placement in history.
After a day of fishing this spring, I took a break, and thought about what I was doing, why I wasn’t even catching little fry. The root reason was located above and beyond me—a frontal system that had lowered barometric pressure (which adversely affects bass). I couldn’t control the weather, but at least I could respond at the level of my pay grade. I adjusted the size and color of the lures I was using, the speed of my retrieve, and where I positioned myself on the lake. After making these few alterations, I started seeing some action.
Ever since Jesus called disciples to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” we’ve been involved in one long fishing trip. Some days have been harder than others. And no, It isn’t your imagination. For the last fifteen years or so, “fishing” in North America has proven increasingly difficult.
As a guy who roamed college campuses, and engaged people with the gospel in the late eighties and nineties, I’m noticing a definite difference today. At that time, people knew they were at odds with God, even while reluctantly admitting to themselves He was the standard of what was right and good. They admired Jesus, even if they didn’t follow Him, and avoided the gospel, not because they thought it was wrong, but because they were too busy enjoying their sin.
In a weird twist, now they honestly believe God is capricious and cruel for not doing what they would do if they were Him. Jesus is questionable for having been so single-minded for the cross and salvation of mankind, that He forgot to condemn first century slavery. The apostles are sexist for failing to demonstrate that gender doesn’t exist, and they are haters for referring to homosexual practice as shameful.
These attitudes have settled upon the minds of many like a cold front on a lake, and the effect has been anything but negligible. The fish don’t seem to be biting.
Certain segments of the church at large have sat down and considered what to do about this, but have adjusted in ways that simply aren’t acceptable, like, say, censoring uncomfortable scripture passages, avoiding themes that might lead a man or woman to repentance. Evangelistic adjustments don’t mean throwing your fishing gear into the water, and surrendering to the fish. And yet the Bible foresaw such events occurring:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (1 Tim. 4:3-4).
This verse describes gospel fishing catastrophes at the end of the age. It shows religious consumers and suppliers together creating a system of unfaithfulness. But we should never plead the difficulty of the fishing day as a reason for being complicit in those shenanigans.
Think of it this way: Nothing could be more heroic, more honorable, than occupying this time in history. If we are indeed within a decade or so away from the coming of Christ, we will have many opportunities to manifest our faith, and our fidelity to God and His word, by wisely using our spiritual equipment. Not throwing it overboard.
We will continue casting the net the Lord has provided. Hopefully, Christ will return and catch you doing just that thing. In the meantime, let’s leave any anxiety about shrinking numbers, budgets, and market share to the Master.
Neither worry if people hate you. As Paul said,
“Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).