Here’s A Thought for Jan. 19

“As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them,”Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” (Mark 1:16-18)

With the arrival of January and February in Minnesota, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” triggers a parade of ice-houses to favorite fishing spots statewide. Over 1.5 million of our fellow citizens/fishermen go fishing.

With that thought in mind, I remember as a child attending both Sunday School and Vacation Bible School classes, where I would sing “Fishers of Men” a hundred times, maybe more. The lyrics were simple: “I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men. I will make you fishers of men, if you follow me.”

My childhood teachers would occasionally explain the meaning of this song, pointing to the saying of Jesus in the Gospels: “From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” Like Peter, James, and John, I with all fellow Christians are chosen at the moment when we were baptized with water into the Body of Christ Crucified, and called to be a fishers of human beings.

Let’s review a few qualities of good spiritual fishermen by which the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts and minds in and through sacred Scripture and Christ’s sacraments when you and I are going fishing in and through our personal relationships with relatives and friends, in schools, places of employment, social gatherings and organizations.

Some of the most important spiritual fishermen traits are 1) We must have prayerful patience. 2) We must have perseverance with the power of God’s Spirit. 3) We will have courage and assurance given to us through God’s presence in Word and sacraments. 4) We will know when it is the right time and place with the Spirit’s guidance. 5) We will keep out of sight our sinful and our own self-righteousness, allowing and Gospel of Christ Crucified to shine in and through us our words and actions.

As God’s fishers of men, we will only glory in and through the Cross of Christ Jesus as we continue to follow Christ Jesus as we prayerfully and loving go fishing. By God’s grace, we have been become fishers of men and women in the sense that we are to spread that good news of God’s free gift of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through the perfect life, sacrificial suffering and death, and physical resurrection of Christ Jesus, Who is a net of redemptive grace.

We are not to force people to convert against their will, but give them the opportunity to repent of their sins, receive, and rejoice over the loving grace of God in Christ Crucified. And we surely do not fish for people in order to hurt or kill them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Thus, we as fishers of human beings we proclaim with the hymn-writer: “No guilt in life, no fear in death — This is the pow’r of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till he returns or calls me home — Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.” Amen.

Now that’s fishing I like to do.

Chopp is a chaplain emeritus, MDiv, BCC, from Marshall