Catching Men

“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10-11)

Every time I read this verse, it always hits me hard. Here you have a total identity transformation. Simon Peter, James and John (and the other disciples) left everything to follow Jesus. It’s not that they would never fish again, it’s just that their new business was the Master’s business. And the Master’s men were in the business of catching men.

So how do you go about catching men? Obviously, salvation is totally a work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), but God still uses us (His people) to reach others as we faithfully proclaim the gospel. When God graciously grants salvation, a remarkable transformation takes place. As Paul tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away;  behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When God catches a man or woman, they inherit a new identity. The focus of their past life (whatever it was) will not be the focus of their future life. Now, a new agenda will govern their lives. In short, that agenda is other people. This is where “catching men” comes into play.

Before he left them, Jesus reminded his disciples of this. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus ends Matthew’s gospel.

To summarize, the disciples were to make more disciples. The Master’s men were to catch other men and women, baptize them, and teach them the whole counsel of God. This is pretty simple, especially when it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even today, our mission remains the same. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are in the business of making more disciples. Modern day Christianity often tries to take a simple thing and make it complicated. The so-called “church growth” experts will give you 100 different ways to build a church. But Jesus only taught us one way. He said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). How? One disciple at a time.

Are you helping other Christian’s follow Jesus?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

In the Great Commission, we find our marching orders. The mission of the church is to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples who… get the point. Jesus did not simply say this to the apostles. He did not simply say this to pastors and church leaders. He gave these instructions to all Christians for all time – to go and make disciples. One way to personalize this would be to ask – are you helping other Christians follow Jesus? This is a simple but important question.

Next Sunday in church, take a look at the people sitting next to you in the pew. These are your brothers and sisters in Christ and you are responsible and accountable to them. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Our desire for “one another” should be that we are more in love with Jesus this week than we were last week. More in love with Jesus this month than we were last month. And more in love with Jesus in 2012 than in 2011. As we grow in our love for Jesus, it always translates into “love and good works” and we delight to see the increase of this in other Christians.

It is truly remarkable how much influence we have on one another – both for good and for bad. Someone who is pursuing hard after God can fuel the fire in the hearts of those around him. Unfortunately, it works the other way as well. A Christian who is stagnant and not diligently pursuing God can tame the fire in the heart of a fellow believer. Even something like spreading gossip can have a destructive impact on a fellow believer and actually hinder their walk with the Lord. So ask yourself; what kind of influence I am having on the Christian’s around me? Do they see someone who is growing more in love with Christ? Or I am I being a tool of Satan and spreading negative influence?

Question: if we are responsible and accountable to one another in the Body of Christ, what do we do when we see a brother or sister who is stagnant in their walk with the Lord? Most of the time we do nothing and this is tragic. But if we truly care for them and love them, then we need to check in from time to time and even challenge them. Ask – how is your walk with the Lord? Are you staying in the Word? Are you killing the sin in your life? I realize this is hard because we live in such a privatized world where we never feel the right to challenge anyone else. But at the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I did my best to help the Christians around me to follow Jesus and sometimes that involves challenging them in their walk with God.

Friend, are you helping other Christian’s follow Jesus? What’s great is that as you help them to follow Jesus, they can help other people follow Jesus. Disciples making disciples. This was the Master’s plan all along. It is true that sometimes this process does not move along as fast as ‘we’ would like, but the plan has work marvelously for 2000 years, so why change it? Just do your best to help others follow Jesus and then trust “the Lord of the harvest” (Luke 10:2) to do His good work.