Fishy Christians


I realize at first glance many will question the Biblical soundness of the suggestion that God wants us to fish…for fish. Yet, consider for a moment the emphasis the Bible places on fish and fishing.

Nine Reasons Why We Know God Wants us to Fish

  1. The word fish occurs 65 times in the Bible—not including the references to fishermen or fishing.
  2. In Genesis we see that God created fish on the 5th day—before any other living creature. When God wiped the world clean with the flood of Noah’s day, fish were the only creatures outside of the Ark to survive. God judged all creation, except for fish.
  3. In II Chronicles 33:14 we find that one of the gates in Jerusalem was magnificently named the Fish Gate.
  4. The premier disciples of Jesus were fisherman. Peter, James & John were in the inner circle of the disciples and they were fisherman. Yes, there was a tax collector, an accountant, a physician and others. However, fishermen were the largest representation in the elite group of 12. Peter & John were actually fishing when Jesus called them to join his group.
  5. The Greek word hallieus means fishers. It comes from the Greek word hals which means “sea.” It’s the very same word used in Mark 1:16 where we read of Andrew & Peter casting their nets because they are fishermen. Jesus used this word when he said to his future disciples, “Follow me and I will make you hallieus”—I will make you fishers.
  6. The disciples, by example, demonstrated how to honor God by returning to fishing once Jesus had fulfilled what he came to do on the cross. John 21:3 records the words of Peter. “I am going fishing.” Thomas, Nathanael, James and John responded, “We will come with you.” They knew what they were now to do. They didn’t go and work as carpenters, or blacksmiths, or travel guides. No, they immediately returned to fishing.
  7. Following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples on the bank of the lake, eating fish. This is signifcant; Jesus is in his glorified and resurrected body, and what is he doing? He is eating fish! This, alone, tells us that fish and fishing are a part of our eternal existence in heaven.
  8. What was the first miracle after the resurrection?
    We find it too in John 21. “Cast the net on the other side of the boat and you will find a catch,” commanded Jesus. The number of fish was so great they could not haul in the catch. Jesus helped Peter & John catch fish.
  9. Proverbs 13:4 King Solomon writes, “He that spareth the rod hateth his son.” I have heard preacher after preacher refer to this passage in the context of disciplining our children. Yet, the word for rod in the original Hebrew text is the same word used for a stick or branch that was used by the Israelites for fishing, (for fish). The passage has nothing to do with disciplining children; this is an exhortation to teach our children the value of fishing.

Family Memories of Fishing

I am grateful that I grew up in a church that knew the spiritual value of fishing. During my childhood, one of the highlights of the year

On a recent fishing trip to Weis Lake my daughter took a break from Crappie Fishing to catch a small catfish.

for me was the annual father and son fishing trip to the Bryants’ cabin on Weiss Lake in Northern Alabama. There on the banks of the Crappie Fishing Capital of the World we learned to fish and we learned God’s Word.

My father was a printer by trade, but was—and is—a God-lover at heart. He taught me to fish and to love fishing. My fondest memories of my childhood are of things like catching five brim with the same worm and running to show my dad; Or, the memory of my dad waking me up at 4 AM to go fishing, or boarding a party fishing boat in Destin to bottom fish in the Gulf. A few years ago my son & I went fishing out of Destin, Florida—much like my dad and I did years ago. After our successful fishing trip we took a photo of the two of us showing off our Red Snapper and Grouper. Shortly after that my son was rummaging through some old photo albums and came across a photo of me and my dad strutting our Snapper. “Hey, that’s looks like me and you,” my son shouted. The love of fishing had been passed along.

Fish are God’s Provision

Fish are a symbol of God’s provision. A giant fish provided Jonah’s way back to obedience and the salvation of a host of souls in Nineveh. When Peter questioned Jesus about whether or not to pay a tax, Jesus told Peter to go the sea and throw in a hook. Peter did it and he caught a fish. Inside the fish’s mouth was a shekel to the pay the tax, (Matthew 17:27). Furthermore, think about the largest crowds that came to hear to Jesus teach, (Matthew 14). Jesus fed the multitudes fish. The parents of the little boy in this passage must have heeded the Old Testament admonition to “spare not the rod.” Their obedience gave opportunity for the Son of God to display the glory of God.

The Fish is More Than a Symbol of Your Faith to Place on Your Car

Today, the most common symbol of Christianity, after the cross, is the fish. The fish should be more than a symbol of faith, however. It should be a reminder to get back to the spiritual discipline of fishing. It’s time for the Bible teachers and preachers of our day to quit overlooking this truth and once again get back to first century Christianity by giving fishing the rightful priority it deserves in our lives.

In Jeremiah 16:16 God triumphantly declares, “Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen.” The day he spoke of then is NOW. Today is the day to fish; to be one of God’s fishermen.

Hook, Line and Sinker

Hopefully, some reading this know the foolishness of what I have just written. Sadly, it illustrates what happens often in our churches and, more commonly, in our personal lives. We misconstrue the Bible to make it appear that it teaches what we would like it to teach.

Therefore, go fish. Find a quite place along the still waters of a lake. In between the casting and reeling, think about this question: Are you misusing the Bible to support a personal desire? Are you honestly looking to discover what the Bible teaches or are you forcing your desires upon the Bible?

While you are there on the lake, take some time, too, to understand the tactics of those who use the Bible to mislead us through their teachings. Skilled teachers know how to mislead while holding an open Bible as they talk.

Here are six practices used by teachers to misapply the Bible to our daily lives.

  1. They will remove the Biblical statements from their context and intended meanings and create new contexts and meanings.
  2. They are masters at mixing some truth in with the fallacious ideas. This is helpful because many will gravitate toward the statements they know to be true and readily assume everything else that is said is equally true.
  3. They will speak confidently, whether or not their ideas are sound.
  4. They will grab your heart and attention by adding personal stories—especially emotional stories that bring a tear to the eye—to supplement their teaching.
  5. To add credibility, they will throw in a few Bible references, even if the passages have nothing to do with what is being taught.
  6. Finally, some will use the ultimate tool of referencing Greek and Hebrew words, (the languages from which the Bible was originally written). This puts the teacher on an apparent level of expertise above the general audience and gives the impression that the teacher is a legitimate Bible scholar who has training only experienced by an elite few.

Whenever we hear teaching referencing the Bible we would be wise to follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11. These Bereans didn’t blindly accept everything they heard. Rather, they studied the Scriptures to see if what was being taught was true to God’s Word.

I love to fish. While you may not share my enthusiasm for fishing I pray you will share my passion for accurately interpreting the Bible to aid us in living lives that honor God.

Gone fishing,

Jack

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