Casting Again (Part 2)
Casting Again (Part 2)
Last week, we examined the story of the “miraculous catch” - and talked about how, even when we’ve tried, and tried again; even when we’re exhausted and ready to pack up our stuff and go home... Jesus calls us to try again! “Go out into deeper water, let down your nets [again] for a catch!”
Of course, anytime we add Jesus to the equation, it changes everything! For Peter (and for James and John) it was the difference between catching nothing all night... to filling two boats to capacity... Peter’s willingness to trust Jesus made all the difference.
Which, of course, speaks to our need for trusting Jesus, too.
Some of us have been involved in “church work” and trying to reach others for Christ for a long time. And we can all testify to the fact that we’ve tried just about everything imaginable! From outreach programs, to advertisements, to hosting denominational leaders who focus on helping Churches reach out to the unchurched. Yet, one thing I’ve learned through the years, is that sometimes we don’t like the “e” word, do we? You do know about the “e” word, right? Of course, the “e-word” is Evangelism. I think we’re often afraid of evangelism. But evangelism is simply the task of sharing the Good News of Christ with the world around us.
When our boys were kids, we were blessed to always have church members who owned private lakes (stocked ponds, usually filled with catfish). And we learned early on, that chicken livers made for good, cheap bait! In fact, whenever we fished with the intent of actually catching fish to keep, we always used chicken livers as bait, because we could reel in the fish one after another! And when fishing is good, fishing is fun!
Of course, the trick to catching fish is knowing what bait works, and what doesn’t, right?
And when it comes to Evangelism... the act of fishing for people (as Jesus called and commissioned his disciples, and US to do)... we have to know what works, and what doesn’t!
I think lines like the one I heard this past week, “Our church is the most like the first century church in practice” or “Come to our church, because we know all the right theology... we’re the true way... the right church” or “come to our church, and you can believe whatever you want! Anything goes!”
Not that it’s bad to model ourselves after the New Testament Church... and being theologically sound, and open-minded are not bad things, at all. But I can’t help but wonder how many people are actually drawn to churches because of such things.
The story is told of a young man named Jack. Jack became Christian during his senior year of high school. He was full of enthusiasm, eager to share his faith (as so many young Christians are). So, when a famous and popular evangelist came to speak in his hometown, Jack went to hear him. And the preacher, was great. After he spoke, he asked for volunteers to sign up for a program he sponsored in the inner city of Philadelphia. So Jack, being eager to share his faith, signed up.
And when the date arrived to head off for this inner-city ministry, Jack gathered with about 100 other college kids who also signed up to help. They had what was basically a pep-rally before they began their work. When they got to the sponsoring church, most of the kids were already worked up, their enthusiasm seem to be at an all-time high. The preacher took some time to encourage the kids and when he was finished, they were all standing, clapping, filled with energy! The Spirit was moving and the kids were ready to go out there and share the Good News of Jesus!
So the evangelist said, “OK gang, are you ready to go out there and tell him about Jesus?“ And of course all the kids responded, “yeah, we’re ready, let’s go!”
So Jack and all the others ran out to get on the buses to head out to share the good news. They were singing, clapping, still excited as they made their way deeper into the city. The church they were based out of wasn’t in the greatest of neighborhoods to start with but it got much worse. Gradually, the group stopped singing… And everybody, all the college kids, we’re just staring out the windows. Anxiety began to overcome their enthusiasm.
When they reached their destination, they realized that they were in front of one of the worst looking housing projects and all of Philadelphia. The preacher jumped on the bus, saying, “all right gang, get out there and tell him about Jesus. I’ll be back at 5 o’clock.” Of course, the young people were hesitant as they got off the bus. They just kind of stood there on the corner… But eventually they began to spread out.
Jack found himself walking up the sidewalk in front of a huge rundown building. He gulped, said a little prayer, and made his way to the front door. There was a terrible odor. Several of the windows were out. No lights seemed to be on. Jack walked up to the door, and he heard a baby crying. He knocked on the door.
The voice from the other side said, “who is it?” Then the door was cracked open, there stood a woman, a woman smoking a cigarette, and holding a naked baby. She said, “what do you want?” in a harsh tone.
Jack said, “I’d like to tell you about Jesus!”
And without missing a beat... the woman swung the door wide open and she began cursing at Jack, with every profanity she could muster. She cursed him out the door, down the steps, and all the way to the end of the sidewalk, before abruptly turning around and making her way into the building, slamming the door shut!
Of course, Jack felt awful. He thought, “well look at me… Some kind of Christian I am. How in the world could somebody like me ever hope tell someone like her about Jesus?”
I’m so Jack set down on the curb and began to wallow in his own insufficiency. But within a few moments, Jack looked up and he noticed a store down the street, on the corner. He had bars over all the windows, didn’t look all that clean. But he decided to walk down to that store, and he walked in and he start looking around. That’s when Jack remembered, the baby was naked… and obviously had no diapers. The mother was smoking cigarettes. So Jack bought a box of diapers, and a pack of cigarettes. And made his way back to the woman’s house.
With those cigarettes and diapers in hand, he knocked on the door a second time. And this time when the voice game, “who is it?”- and the door cracked open, Jack immediately held up the box of diapers and the cigarettes. The woman’s expression changed... she looked at Jack and said, “come in.”
Jack spent the afternoon talking to this woman, playing with the baby. After a little while, the woman said, “let me ask you something. What’s a nice college boy like you doing in a place like this?” In that moment, Jack told her everything that he knew about Jesus. It took about two minutes. The woman then said, “pray for me and my baby we can make it out of here alive.” And so Jack prayed.
That evening, after all the college kids were loading back up on the buses, the preacher asked, “well gang, did any of you get to tell him about Jesus?” And Jack said, “Not only did I get to share Jesus, but I met Jesus. I went out there to save somebody, and I ended up getting saved myself. I became a disciple.”
My friends that’s what evangelism is… That’s what sharing the Good News, is all about. It’s not about programs, it’s not about budgets, it’s not about correct theology, it’s not even about who’s the most like Jesus. Evangelism is all about love. It’s loving others enough to be the light of Christ, and to share the Good News by word and deed, whenever we can.
It’s about hearing the voice of Christ, and trusting Jesus enough to cast our nets again. Even when we’re tired, when it seems to be hopeless. Even when the odds are stacked against us, and our personal experience (and evidence exists) to the contrary! We trust Jesus enough to try again.
And when we truly trust Jesus... our love for Christ grows... and transforms us and overflows into every single area of our lives… and evangelism happens. Community is created… The Kingdom grows. Lives are changed... even if that life is yours.