Understanding and developing the best means to reach people for the Faith Part I
As Jesus was walking beside the
Jesus calls us to Himself, and then calls us to reach others for Him! This is very evident in this passage. An uncommonly incredible, insightful, strange, mysterious person approached a small group of young fishermen working in their family fishing business and challenged them to make a life-changing decision. They were in wonder at this Man's teaching, and the miracle of the fish that was performed for them as recorded by Luke. They knew all about fishing. Their substance and living depended on fishing. They provided a much needed and vital food to their region-fish-which they caught with nets suspended from the back of their boats. The floats and weights that spread out the nets, to catch as many as possible as they rowed in the Sea of Galilee, was done much the same as fishing boats operate today. Then the fish were dried, cured with salt, or pickled to preserve them, and then sold. They were perhaps in a business that provided them with a much higher standard of living than many other people around them. So, why would they desire to leave that good and stable life and venture into the unknown?
Are we willing to Follow Me? If not, how will we become Fishers of Men?
Jesus gives us a call to step into Him with faith. "Come, follow me" was extended to the disciples, and their response was evident as they left their boats and followed. A call was also given to them to then step out with their faith. "I will make you fishers of men" to others-without irresistible pressure, yet with passion and conviction. That call was unprecedented in their culture and understanding. Normally, a student would seek out a teacher, a Rabbi. A Rabbi would never seek students, as it was a pride issue. Jesus broke the pride and arrogance barrier to model that we are to seek disciples, and not just wait for them to come to us. This call also tells us that before we can teach others to fish, we have to know the fish and know how to fish. In so doing, we can challenge one another to leave our comfort zone and enter the realm of His faith, worship, service, and outreach.
Jesus went throughout the region of
Jesus said, "Follow Me." (Matt. 4:19; 9:9) Jesus did not mean that they should just physically follow Him on the road, aimlessly. They were set apart, challenged to know and grow in the faith, and taught their call and mission. Just as they had worked at catching fish, now they would be catching men (Luke
A lot of Christians have the false presumption that in discipleship we make people like ourselves, or, have them conform to our specific church or denomination or specific system of belief. But, that is not what discipleship and follow me is about. It is helping facilitate the spiritual growth of others. It is being empowered by the Spirit to hook people up to Christ. We are never to make disciples in our image, alike in whom we are, how we think, feel, and act, but like Christ! Christian means to be "Christ like," not "self like" or "Bob like" or "Joan like." We are to become His disciples by our faith, by His Work in us! We are then to be discipled by someone! This is not just learning about the faith as a new Christian; it is a life long commitment to grow in Him-though His Word, through our personal devotions, through fellowship, through worship-and by learning all we can and applying what we have learned. This helps form us as the people of God. We are to disciple others so they can, in turn, disciple others. Thus, Christianity is by faith, it is communal, it is continual, and it is shared. It is a community endeavor! A lot of Christians just will not do this. Perhaps, they are too individualistic, self-absorbed in their own lives without a thought of God or others. Perhaps, they think, once I made that prayer and I am "set free." I do not need to do anything else. And, yes, they are if it is real and in Christ. But, what good it is to be a "pew-sitter" and do nothing with what Christ gave and called us to (James
The twelve disciples spent three years of their lives following, learning, listening, observing, practicing, and experiencing life directly with Jesus. Then, they carried that learning and experience to the world (Matt. 10:1-15; the Book of Acts). It all comes down to a decision. Will we make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride, allow ourselves to learn and grow, and in turn teach others, or will we plant our rears in the pew, so that our only impact is our butt- print in that pew? Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried on to the people around us!
What we need to learn for today
Evangelism and discipleship are not easy because this goes against our pride and will. It cuts into our time and plans; it brings us out of our comfort zone into the scary areas of life. It even has a cost. Following Christ will cost us and will require effort and consistency (Matt.
We may not be called to the radical commitment they were. Jesus will never call you to literally leave your family, and, in most cases, He would rather you stay were you are. What Jesus wants is for us to follow Him in our will and mindsets so we grow in the faith and then become contagious with the faith to others. And, we can do this best in the relationships and connections we already have, even before we set out to make new ones. He may then call you to venture out, but He will also give you the ability and desire to do so!
Jesus expects us to know what we are getting into, and embrace it with vigor and faith. The point is that nothing can come before Him (Matt. 3:8;
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Are you doing that? Most Christians just stand at the shore of life watching the fish. We make little effort to catch them for our Lord. It is amazing at all the excuses I have heard, and have even given myself over the years, for not following Him and why it is not necessary to become fishers of men. We can theologize and rationalize for not doing what He has called us to do (Mark 8:36; Luke 18:29-30). But, I believe it is our fear that takes us over, and not the love we have in Christ (1 John
Let us, as the Church triumphant, adhere to His call and follow. Apply your faith! Because, if we just sit around and come up with excuses, we will drift too far away-too far from the fish. We will not be catching anything and the fishing expedition of life will be just a meaningless and wasted trip. Let us allow the power of the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, and break our will, so we can be receptive to our Lord and Savior, and so we can do as He called! It all comes to the decision of whether we will make our faith real and impacting, relinquishing our pride to allow us to learn, grow, tell, and teach others, or else we will plant our rears in the pew, thus making our butt print in that pew our only impact! Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried on to the people around us! Let us follow Him and be His fishers of men!
The Nature of Humanity
Before we can venture into the subject of Evangelism, of making fishers of men, we have to understand the sinful nature and the arrogance of the fish in question-our human nature. We will flap our fins and tails as fast as we can to the very last moment to try to flee from God's presence and control, saying we can do better on our own. We will ignore His bait and His truth. We will stay in our stinky stingy waters and not venture into His living water (John
Most Christians fear evangelizing and witnessing because of the possibility of rejection, or how friends and peers will perceive them. Therefore, we must realize the role of evangelism, of saving people, is God's-and God's alone. He chooses to use us for His glory, but it is His Spirit that convicts and converts. We are the tools, the rods and reels He uses. Who and what we are and do in Him far outweighs how others see us. Our responsibility is to obey and let Him use us. We are not responsible for whether or not people accept the message; we are only responsible to proclaim it as effectively and as passionately as we can. This takes the "personal responsibly" and "fear of rejection" load off of us. We need not fear rejection because we are not being rejected; God is the One who is rejected. He is the One to whom people do not want to conform; we are merely His servants!
Obeying God's Call
Our lives would be a lot easier, as Christians, if we did not teach these truths; and, this is a big reason why most Christians just sit in their pews and do nothing. This is why many churches no longer teach Truth, but, rather, false doctrine or liberal ideas. It is easier to sit and believe than to walk, and obey what we believe. And, it is much easier to believe what we want, and only look up at Jesus on occasion but never get up to follow. And, if we never follow, we can never make fishermen of others or ourselves!
But, God calls us out of the darkness and into the light. He tells us that, as Christians, we need to know our neighbor and their objections, but not let that detour us from His plan. We cannot just take our beliefs and keep them in a secret huddle. A football team that wants to win does not hold a huddle so the quarterback can get some sleep, so he can say and do nothing; no, the huddle is to unleash the plan of action that the coach has called them to do. Our Christian faith is based on the cross of Christ, but it does not stop there, as the start of a football game does not stop at the toss of the coin. We are called to do and obey with the gifts and abilities that our Lord has given us (Matt.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter
God calls us to respond, and this passage calls us to respond! It must be an action; we are encouraged to respond with passion, boldness, compassion, clarity, truth, and tact. The
Peter says we can do it. "Do this with gentleness and respect." This is our call. Being ready is a big part of the Christian life, and the defense is to know what you believe and why; thus, our passion will be to lovingly give a response, even out of hostile reactions and the threat of persecution.
"No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the
The Desire not to Follow
What I want to do is challenge you to see some of the root causes that people turn you off when you evangelize. By knowing these common objections (we will look at more of them next month), you will understand why people respond the way they do, so you will not take things so personally. That way, you will not be turned off from doing evangelism yourself. This will give you greater confidence; you will know how people respond, and then be better listeners and evangelists. We first need to ask, what are my objections? What stopped me before? What can still stop me? What did I fear giving up or fear to go?
Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead (Matthew
This passage reveals some seemingly strange happenings and words coming from Jesus. Large crowds often followed Jesus, attracted by His teachings (Matt.
This passage stresses the radical demands of Jesus' call. His call is above all else for us as Christians. What God's will is all about, and of what we are to be doing in our personal lives and in our churches is practice our faith so we will grow in Him. This is discipleship! Nothing else is more important. Period. At the same time that He gives us this call, a great cost is placed before us that we need to accept. It is a cost that He paid on the cross, a cost of our will. It is a sacrifice of all that we may think is important in life, except that with eternity in mind, it is not. But, most people do not realize that the things they are chasing in life are really meaningless and worthless in an eternal perspective.
We need to understand that none of these people were really turned away by our Lord. Rather, they, themselves turned away of their own will because they just wanted a show. Those who said they wanted to follow Him refused to pay the cost. Remember, our Lord knows what is in our hearts and what is motivating us. Jesus desires for us to grow in Him, not to merely seek a show (John
It was common for Greek teachers and philosophers to make hard demands on their potential students to test their resolve, commitment, and intentions. These hard demands were meant to discourage people who had bad intentions and ulterior motives from taking up their valuable time and resources. The best teachers would only take in a few of the worthiest students, just as most universities do today, with screening processes. Jesus' own profession as a carpenter was considered a very good profession. Many sought to get into it because it was far more lucrative and respected than the other occupations in an agrarian community where farming and trade were the norms. Jesus must have had a lot of people seeking Him as a carpenter too, prior to His public ministry.
The point of this passage is that selfish intentions will block us from knowing Him and growing in Him. We must be aware of selfish intentions both in us and in others. Being "me first" is common, and a part of our sinful nature that Jesus asks us to purge. We have to be honest and introspective as to why we want to serve Him, why we want to grow and be discipled. Because, if it is for egotistical and selfish gain, it will not be real or loving. Pride, spiritual blindness, and vacillation will become our mentors, and we will not have His will and glory in our sights. Jesus will be bearing with us in our unbelief and failures, but He will not be helping us grow (Luke
Jesus calls His disciples, all who follow Him, to a higher standard of commitment beyond poverty and social status into real sacrificial servitude and discipleship lifestyle (Matt. 6:31-33; 10:34-37; 12:46-50; Luke 10:38-42; Acts 14:21-22; 2 Tim. 3: 10-12; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). This is scary, and many will not want to do this, or else will only make a shallow effort (Matt.
To literally follow Jesus at that time-that is, travel and learn and minister with Him-would have meant leaving everything, including your home, as the rest of His disciples did (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 10:28-29). This was not permanently leaving, as the Gospels record them going back to their homes on occasion, but venturing beyond their normal way of life (Matt. 8:14). This scribe was, perhaps, a person focused on his home and material positions. Jesus was, in fact, telling this scribe that he needed to count the cost before becoming a disciple (Luke
Another man comes and desires to follow, but wants to return home first, to bury my father. This may seem sincere, too, as this was one of the most enduring and basic of responsibilities of a son to his family. The father was probably not dead yet (or he would not have been there, or asked the question). Rather, the son's duties were to take care of him and then take over the household, business, and any family matters. One normally did not go into a mentoring position until his family was taken care of first. After death, the body was entered in a ground burial. A year later, it was dug up and put into a family crypt or box, much like the one recently discovered that may have belonged to James, the brother of Jesus. This process can take one to two years. So, this man was seeking something he had no intention of following through with until a much later time. Jesus calls us now, not later! This man can be described as the "reluctant disciple," one who needed to be reminded of what it means to make a real commitment.
Then Jesus responds, let the dead bury their own dead. Jesus is telling us the importance of discipleship, and of our growth in Him. He is saying to let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead, as they are both dead. The time we have on earth and of obeying His call is short, so it demands our full attention and commitment. Jesus was not telling the man to disrespect his parents; rather, he is telling him to consider what is important, and to have the right priorities in life. We are to make disciples to revive the spiritually dead, not wait around for someone to die and be buried-especially in our spiritual life, and that of others. Remember that follow
We are not told if the man followed Jesus into the boat, or if the storm (verses 23-27) or his inclinations distracted him from this ever so important sojourn. To really follow Christ, we will surrender all to Him (John 3:5, 30;
You may have made the decision to follow me, but what have you done with becoming fishers of men? Have you counted the cost? Are you willing to pay the price? Do you know that both are required to follow Jesus?
Next month: Understanding and developing the best means to reach people for the Faith Part II
We are also launching our new Evangelism Channel next month! After over 20 years of research and practice we have developed several curriculums and articles on how you can start, run and build a successful evangelism program for yourself and for your church! All you need to know and for you to use for free!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of "Into Thy Word Ministries," a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word, and is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in