Matthew 4:19 records how Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew: “Come, Follow me,” He said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
As I have often said, there are two distinct parts in the process of following Jesus. The first is internal and speaks of what we are becoming:
1. “I will make you…”
This suggests an onward and inward journey of being conformed and fashioned to the image of Jesus Christ, as God deals with the stuff inside of us. It is actually learning to become who we are when we were born again.
The second is the external aspect, speaking of ministry, what we will do as a result:
2. “…fishers of men.”
This describes an ongoing outward journey of servanthood to a broken and lost world.
Both are needed for us to “grow up” into mature, servant-hearted people, laying our lives down for the King.
It is on the second point, “fishers of men” I would like to focus and have adapted the following from the Effective Evangelism by Floyd McClung:
Witnessing cannot be turned on and off like a machine – it is not simply an act of the will. Witnessing is not just something we do, it is who we are.
Our life, and the way we live it daily, bear witness to what we truly believe. Everything we choose to do (or not do), our attitudes, the way we treat others, our words, – these all have an impact on someone. In fact, we cannot go through a day or week without our live influencing somebody. The question is not, “Will we witness?” Instead, it is “How will we witness?”
By perceiving witnessing to be merely going out on the streets on a Friday night, of handing out tracts, we miss the wider implication of our lives. There are a great number of well-meaning Christians who think evangelism is accomplished with tracts and words alone. They see evangelism as an isolated activity, something you ‘do’ until it is ‘done’; then you find another person to ‘do’ it to.
It is wider than handing out tracts or preaching on the streets, even though it includes that. It involves our entire life and how we choose to live it before others.
Evangelism is also something we do when we actively share our faith. It involves meetings and conversations. It means standing for justice and giving mercy, being thoughtful to a friend in need, and being available when someone is down. It is praying for the sick and confronting evil when others are oppressed. It is my conviction that we lead people to Christ by inviting them to follow our very lives, day in and day out. This is everyday evangelism.
In the final analysis, it is God and not man who measures effectiveness in evangelism, and His standard has different reference points than ours. Yes, we must share the gospel, Jesus has commanded us to do so, but we must never forget we are dealing with people and not just statistics.
During this season of COVID, political unrest, and issues facing our nation, many people are desperate in so many ways. They might have practical, physical needs, like finance, food, shopping, help with kids when they go to work, etc. But they might have other needs like emotional. We have seen so many people become quite overwhelmed through fear, isolation leading to depression and so much more. We can honestly say that right now, as it states in John 4:35, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
Acts of kindness, care, or even a listening ear go a long way to open up the doors of people’s hearts to Jesus. Exactly how and when people come to the Lord through our sharing the Gospel, we may never know. Conversion is often a process, and it is difficult to tell exactly what part each of us plays on drawing a person to Christ. Some of us may be working in the fields that are “ready to harvest,” as so many are in this season, while others of us are planting seeds in rocky ground. Our focus is Jesus and His heart for each person. As we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, be is sharing the Word of God or taking a meal to someone in need, we are being that “witness”.
Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:32). Let us always lift up Jesus as the One who is worthy.