Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. Luke 5:10-11
So far as we know, this is the first time that Jesus had ever met Simon. We have learnt that Jesus had borrowed his boat to use as a convenient pulpit, and then gave Simon orders to fish in a new area, which resulted in an enormous catch.
In the very next moment, Jesus informs Simon that he wants to change his life around! I find that amazing. If it had been me, I would have wanted to get to know Simon better and then, gently (and probably after a few days) I may have suggested he help me with some recruiting. Jesus’ bold approach tells us that recruiting disciples was right at the heart of his ministry. And he wanted them to know that, from day one, he expected them to be just as eager to recruit people, too.
Over the years, the Church has often been tempted to leave recruitment to the ‘professionals’. Ministers and evangelists are seen as the people who should be fishing for new disciples. However, that clearly wasn’t Jesus’ intention. Ministers and evangelists may be very effective at evangelism, and training others to get involved,
but Jesus wants us all to share in this incredibly important and exciting activity.
Very few people become Christians after hearing a wonderful sermon, or being given brilliant answers to all their questions. Most people choose to follow Jesus because they have seen the life of another Christian. They have witnessed their peace and joy and have been attracted to following Christ for themselves. So we all have a role to play in this, and it starts the moment that we decide to follow Jesus. Indeed, those who have recently become Christians are often the most effective in introducing others to him!
I am well aware that many people feel awkward when the subject of evangelism is raised. Often, we would love to leave it to someone else. But that’s not Jesus’ way. We have all been invited to share in it, not because we are well informed or experienced, but because we had a need that Jesus has been able to satisfy. As DT Niles puts it: “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”
Who could you tell about Jesus?
Lord Jesus, thank you for asking me to share your good news with others. Help me to be gentle and wise in the way that I do so. Amen