In recent correspondence with my friend Dave, I was intrigued to see that he signed off his email with the words “’til the nets are full.” Knowing Dave as I do, it was no surprise to me that he used a fishing analogy. What really struck me is how profound these words are when we use them in relation to the Gospel and the fishing invitation of Jesus in Luke 5:1-11.
The phrase is a very good, and perhaps timely, reminder of the great, unfinished task of global mission and the fact that “mission” includes “catching fish,” i.e. helping people discover the grace and mercy of God.
I was once again reminded that in our society it’s considered uncool, or even offensive, to propagate our exclusive views on Jesus being the “only way.” In such a society it’s much less offensive to simply work towards meeting the social needs of people, alleviating poverty and creating a just society than it is to “catch fish.”
As much as it might be untrendy and fly in the face of society, we can’t get away from the fact that an integral part of the mission that God calls us to partner with him in is to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ.
As Chris Wright puts it: “Mission that does not ultimately include declaring the Word and the name of Christ, the call to repentance, and faith and obedience has not completed its task. It is defective mission ...” (Mission of God, pages 318-319).
Dave’s fishing analogy also reminds me of the urgency of the need to be obedient to God’s invitation to be involved in the whole of his mission. The nets will not be full unless we participate with God in his mission to the world.
The part each of us plays in his mission may vary, nonetheless we are all to be active participants – active fishers, now, today and every day!
So, here at the beginning of 2012 I’ve been reminded again (I’m a slow learner) of the breadth of the Gospel and the importance and urgency of obedience. I think I’ll borrow Dave’s little phrase (which he tells me isn’t his anyway) to remind me of my need to be actively involved in his mission “’til the nets are full.”
Neil is Team Leader of tranzsend. With his wife, Barbara, he has served with tranzsend in both PNG and Thailand.