I like it because it's a quick way to build the disciplines of grace into your life (The Word, prayer, meditation, application). It doesn't take extraordinary Bible study tools. It doesn't require a leader to tell you the "right" answers. All you need are your Bible, the illuminating power of God's Holy Spirit, your brain, and a pencil (or in my case, Microsoft OneNote, where I've been journaling all this).
Clicking the title of this post takes you to this week's SOAP journal. You can download and print it for yourself if you like.
/End of preface, begin today's study:
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Scripture: Matthew 4:19
And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Immediately after that, Peter and Andrew left their livelihoods and followed Jesus. Right after that, Jesus called John and James, and the same thing: they left their nets and their father and followed the messiah. Jesus CALLED and they responded. All believers have received a call from Jesus to follow Him.
In my past experience, here is where the guilt card is played, with that phrase "FISHERS OF MEN." You're not reeling in enough fish, some church leader may say to you. He that winneth souls is wise! Or perhaps, Your bait isn't good enough; try this hook instead! I think this misses some of the point. Jesus called us first to FOLLOW him. He will transform us into good fishermen. If you're hanging out with the master fisher, he'll teach you how to catch the fish.
I realize that a fish is not going to just jump out of the water and flop into my boat. At the same time, I've seen a lot of hard-sell "soulwinning" in my day. If you employ the right technique, you too can persuade/browbeat/frighten someone into professing Christ as savior. But how much of that is a real disciple-making experience, and how much is just a beleaguered person succumbing to pressure to join a club/please the browbeater? Straight-up, I confess, I AM reacting against that bible-thumping approach from the preacher with the loud voice and dippity-do in his hair. I've seen people arm-wrestled into churchianity (differentiating from true faith in Christ), and these people then perpetuate the means by which they themselves were brought into the doors. As far as their receiving a true, life-transforming experience, however, the results are less convincing.
Here's what I take away from this verse: The master CALLS people--as you yourself were called--and those will in turn follow Christ and become fishers of men. We follow the master, and he enables us to lead others to faith in him. I don't want to get caught up in the numbers game: (How many fish did you catch today?); I do want to follow him and let him turn me into a fisherman like himself.
Lord, help me to follow you first. And help me to fish. But help me never to lose sight of you by focusing only on a bunch of smelly fish. :) Amen.