As a kid I recall fishing at a neighbor’s pond one day and we must’ve got sixty or more fish. They were biting so well we decided to not bait the hook and it worked to our amazement. They must’ve been bored, stupid or very hungry !! When I attended seminary one of my friends there was telling me how he used to catch flounder. He would swim up behind them so that they couldn’t see him and then he’d spear them.
Different fish, different situations, different means of snagging the catch ! The same could be said of fishing for souls when you think about it. People have all kinds of backgrounds and respond to certain things more than others. For example, when you read the Gospel of John you see Jesus witnessing to Nicodemus in chapter three and the man is well acquainted with the Old Testament. What does Christ do? He relates to him with some verses from Ezekiel to teach him how to get to heaven. “Except a man be born of water and the Spirit , he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn.3:5) is not an allusion to water baptism saving a person or the actual physical birth but rather as Ezekiel speaks of a new and spiritual birth in Ezek.36:25-26, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness and from all your IDOLS will I cleanse you. A NEW HEART also will I give you and a NEW SPIRIT will I put within you. . .” Old Nic had to have his mind jogged a little bit about some things he’d learned to piece together that Jesus’s reference to being “born again” was not a physical thing but very much a spiritual birth. Witnessing can start as simply as finding something you can relate to with a person and starting a conversation with them about it and from there you start to chat about Christ somehow. One of the first neighbors we had when moving here enjoyed fishing, so I went with him and we had many a good chat and time to witness.
The very next chapter in John the Lord witnesses to a woman who was vastly different than Nicodemus. Her knowledge of Scripture was quite skewed and so were her morals. Jesus uses a different bait for her ! He does not stay with the same old “Romans Road” approach, as good as that is with some folks. Instead He piques her curiosity by simply even talking to her. Most Jews and Samaritans would avoid each other, and men considered themselves above women. Listen to her words, “How is it that thou,being a Jew asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?” (Jn.4:9). Some people’s attention is raised when you do something out of the norm. Say, you remain calm by the power of the Spirit when others would go to pieces in a crisis ! Or you refuse to laugh at an off color joke or tear down someone else. Holiness in a person does tend to make that person stand out in the crowd !
And you know, Jesus wasn’t afraid to “offend” this woman by countering her beliefs. In essence what He tells her is quite frankly that her belief system is wrong ! “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship. . . ” (4:22). I’m not saying this gives us license to be obnoxious but in certain situations some people respond well to a candid remark. Telling it like it is must of course always be tempered with love as Paul wrote sin Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love”. Satan doesnt even want us to speak and sometimes though we want to excuse not witnessing by hiding behind “love”. I did’t want to upset them. Witness while you can, its the loving thing to do. Its the obedient thing to do — wait, arent they the same “If ye LOVE me KEEP my commandments.” (Jn.14:15) but get to know the bait that works best and reel ’em in for the glory of God ! Its pretty cool to catch some fish !!!