“Theory vs. Practice”

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Mark 1:16-17

There once was a group of people who called themselves “the fishermen.” They lived near many streams, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water teeming with fish. The fishermen met twice a week, on Sunday and Wednesday, to discuss fishing. They talked about their special calling to fish. They had classes designed to help them be better fishermen. They listed statistics of the abundance of the fish around them. They encouraged others to fish. They zealously defended their right to fish. But they never actually went fishing.

Their enthusiasm gained the interest of others and anglers from the surrounding region joined them. This growth forced them to build a larger meeting house which only fed the excitement. In addition to these regular meetings they sent out some of their members to other places to spread the message: Everyone should become a fisherman! They held week-long seminars to promote fishing, define fishing and defend fishing as their sole purpose in life. But the men who spoke at the meetings never actually fished.

Strangely, the fishermen continued their campaign offering courses on the needs of the fish, what kinds of things the fish liked, the nature of fish, the best methods to catch fish and the psychological effects of fishing. The men who taught had doctorates in Fishology but they didn’t have time for fishing because they were too busy teaching.

One evening, two men stumbled into a meeting quite by accident. You must understand that these men were not schooled in the ways of the fishermen. After a stirring sermon entitled “The Necessity of Fishing” they were compelled to do something amazing and unexpected. They went to a local pond and actually tried fishing. And much to their surprise and delight, after only minimal effort, one of the men caught a fish!

He proudly brought his catch to the next meeting. This man was hailed as a hero. He was honored for his actions and was interviewed and fawned over by the other fishermen. He was soon scheduled to hold meetings to talk about “The Time I Went Fishing and Actually Caught A Fish”. So he quit fishing and went on tour to share his experience by giving motivational speeches. He had his fish mounted on a shining gold plate with the words “The Fish I Caught That One Time” engraved at the bottom.

Things weren’t all roses for the fishermen though. Oh no! They had to endure many sacrifices. Like going to all those meetings. And reading all those books. And living in communities surrounded by so many smelly fish. And, if you would believe it, there were even some people who had the gall to criticize them. They ridiculed the group for calling themselves “fishermen” while never trying to fish. The nerve of some people!

By now, you have caught my drift. Jesus 'caught' us to free us. He wants to make us “fishers of men” (Mk. 1:17), to save the lost and “make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:18-20). We were chosen “that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). Some Christians may go their whole life without bringing another soul to Christ. This is inexcusable. The Christian who doesn’t tell others the good news is as unthinkable to Jesus as a light you can’t see or salt you can’t taste (Mt. 5:13-16).

I’ll leave you with the following poem by DA Carson:

Shall flowers hide their beauty?

Shall rainbows turn to grey?

Shall birds forget their singing?

Shall sunlight fade away?

Shall I be silent at grace beyond degree?

Before the cross I count as loss what once was dear to me.