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Cross Words: Fishing 101
The 21st chapter of the Gospel of John gives an account of a fishing expedition involving the disciples of Jesus.  Apparently they had been casting their nets for an entire night with nothing to show for their efforts. Early the next morning, while standing on the shore, Jesus inquired of them about their success.  Upon their dismal report, Jesus then instructed them to try their luck fishing off the other side of the boat. After doing what He had suggested it was then that, “they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (v.3).
This story wasn’t recorded in the Bible in order for us to be better outdoorsmen. It was recorded, as all Biblical accounts are, for us to be better disciples.  This story wasn’t about men looking for lost fish. It rather was about God fishing for lost men.
To be blunt, most of us believers, as well as our churches, do a poor job of reaching the lost within our communities.  We speak of outreach.  We train for outreach. Some even venture out into the waters.  Yet for the most part we are unsuccessful as a whole.
Could it be that the reason for our futility is that we are simply fishing off the wrong side of the boat?
We often cast our nets towards those who live on our same street.  We seek out those who are of the same color.  The same economical background.  Those who speak as we do.  Those who dress the same.  The middle to upper-middle income family with 2.2 children and a white picket fence.
Jesus told of a great feast a king was preparing to have. He had sent out invitations to all the “right” people. They did not respond despite his repeated requests. His solution, so that the party would not go unattended?  He sent his servants out into the streets and invited “anyone they could find... both good and bad” (Matt 22).
It is to the street corners that the church has been called to go.  To the alleys and yes even into the back alleys. It is among the drug-addicted, the alcoholic, the homeless, the insane, the thieves that we have been called to cast our net upon. It is the murky waters, the water on the other side of the boat, in which we have been called to wade.

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