For most people I know, fishing is a hobby. Some approach it casually, picking up a pole and dipping a few worms in the lake for fun while they’re at a summer cottage. It’s an opportunity to relax, to enjoy the scenery, and to throw the occasional bluegill back into the water.
Others obsess on fishing. Equipped with the latest lures, a sonar fish finder, and an Evinrude-powered bass-boat, they look forward to early morning hours on the lake tracking down the big one. They’re saving up for that once-in-a-lifetime charter boat trip out into the open waters of the ocean for that trophy fish that will hang in the family room. Fishing is a passion for them, but it’s still just a hobby.
Unfortunately, we tend to bring those kinds of fishing thoughts into this Scripture passage. We think of Jesus talking to the disciples almost as if He’s chatting with them while they’re on vacation, enjoying a little fishing before they join their families for a nice dinner down at the dockside café. In that scenario, fishing is incidental to their “real lives” and the outcome doesn’t really matter all that much.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For these men, fishing was literally a life-and-death matter. Empty nets meant empty stomachs. Their only means of eking out an existence lay under the waters of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus wasn’t asking them to switch hobbies, He was calling them to leave all that they knew and trusted to follow Him first and foremost.
So what about us? It’s possible that we may view God’s call on our lives as an invitation to add a hobby to our already busy schedule. We assume that we can make our careers and our leisurely pursuits a priority while doing a little “fishing for God” on the side when we get time. We may even study “fishing,” buy some fun “fishing” tools, and get a little more serious about it—but still relegate this call of Christ to “hobby” status rather than making it our first and foremost passion. Subtly, we convey the message that the outcome doesn’t really matter.
Thankfully, the disciples set a very different example for us. Instinctively they knew that Jesus was worth leaving everything. They knew that He couldn’t be put on a shelf until they had time for Him. They knew that they couldn’t pursue their own agenda and His at the same time. So they made Him—not their careers—their primary focus.
Jesus may not require that you give up your career, but following Him will ensure that you never see your career in the same way again. As a follower of Christ, everything in your life will be done in the perspective of advancing His cause. Friendships, family, salaries, career issues, dreams, and desires will all be seen in terms of how Christ can be magnified and how people can be drawn to Him. And the beautiful truth in all of this is that as you follow His call in faith, you will experience His joy, presence, and satisfaction in ways that you never could have imagined.
What are you waiting for? The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. Follow Him and be ready to watch as He uses you in ways you never could have imagined!
- What “fishermen” were involved in bringing you to Jesus? Who shared the gospel with you?
- How would you see the main ingredients in your life differently if you saw it all in terms of following Christ?
- Assess your involvement in “fishing for men.” Are you—
(a) not fishing at all?
(b) fishing as a hobby every once in a while?
(c) fishing quite a bit, but still as a hobby?
(d) making fishing your primary passion in life?
- What other priorities in your life sometimes get in the way of following Christ wholeheartedly?
- What changes need to take place in order for you to follow Christ as the disciples did?