Friday, January 10, 2014

Casting Your Net On The Other Side

Painting by Greg Olsen
When Jesus encounters the disciples on the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection, we have this beautiful story of Jesus once again empowering the disciples to accomplish something they couldn't do on their own.  He tells the disciples to cast their net on the other side of the boat. The disciples are obedient and the result is an incredible haul of fish. As with any act by Jesus, chronicled by his disciples, there is an underlining reason or message for us beyond the miracle itself. Yet, we are left to speculate to the significance of this miracle. There is no definitive explanation offered in scripture. The disciples had gone back to fishing, to the the life they had before Jesus had called them to join him in being fishers of men. Jesus shows up and performs a similar miracle to the one in which he performed when he first met them.  You could easily say that the miracle was a wakeup call, a reminder for the disciples to continue their mission without Jesus and if they obeyed Jesus, their success would be bountiful.

But could it have also signified to the disciples and future believers, that they were now going to be fishing for men in different waters. They would be called in the near future to go beyond the Jewish race, beyond Jerusalem, to Judeah, Samaria and the ends of the world to do their fishing?  They would be fishing in the Gentile waters and the haul would be incredible.

And could there also be a message for us today?  Could it be that Jesus is calling pastors, church planters, and all followers of Jesus to cast our nets on the other side, into different waters? Could it be that the lack of growth in the church the past 20 years in the U.S. is because we have been fishing in the wrong waters?   

To be real honest, most churches do a very poor job of reaching the lost.  We have been fishing in an aquarium for the past 50 years.  Church has been primarily to and for Christians.  A pastor friend of mine told me the other day that he preaches consistently that their church is there to reach the lost.  He said he actually had one of his members come to him and say, "I really don't like it when you preach that we are here for the lost.  Pastor that is not true.  We are paying you to minister to us.  Our church is here for us Christians!"  I imagine there are many church members who feel that way, but would never come out and proclaim it.  When it comes to church, we have become more like country clubs rather than mission posts.  

With that in mind, do you think that Jesus is calling us to fish in another pond, to really try to reach those who are far away from God?  Could Jesus be telling us that casting our nets on the other side means spending our time, energy and resources in targeting those who do not know Jesus instead of to those who already know Christ?  Do you think that perhpas God is calling us to cast our nets back into the urban areas to reclaim what we have for the most part abandoned?  

We have been praying at The Missional Association that we can reach those in the urban areas of San Antonio who live in communities that are spiritually bankrupt. And God has sent our way several young men who feel God calling them to plant in urban San Antonio, to be missionaries in the city center.  It has been really exciting to work with these young men, to watch God transform lives and start to change whole communities. It is difficult work and requires a different mindset than planting in the suburbs.  But the harvest is plentiful and the need for workers is great. Please join The Missional Association in prayer for all of the churches and church planting movements that are commited to casting their nets into the waters on the other side of the boat, into the waters of the inner city, that we may reap an abundant harvest for God.  

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