Fishing All Night—
We have toiled all the night
“Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets,
And when they had this done, a great multitude of fishes; and their net brake” —Luke 5: 4-6
ELL, SO HAVE WE toiled all the night. We debated the denominational people, and we won the debates! Our arguments on faith only
or essentially of baptism
were sharp — and unanswered. We won the debates, but did not convert the people. Our nets were empty.
We battled the sectarian concept showing it is foreign to the New Testament. There is no defense for sectarianism. Then we note our own sectarianism: creed-like documents; people aligned; men seeking control; dissidents blackballed; a church label demanded that is more exclusive than New Testament descriptions. The very sectarian concept we fought in others prospers among us. The net is empty
We argued all sorts of doctrinal questions with hosts of religious people — and won. After all this, we find we know the answers, but faith languishes. Trust in
Jesus is not growing. Prayer is abandoned. Risking ourselves in His service — spending and being spent (2Cor.12:15) is rare. Our net is empty.
We confronted institutionalism; fought bravely. We won the arguments only to find ourselves thinking on brotherhood rather than congregational or individual levels. We forget there is nothing larger than a local church. We forget autonomy. Preaching mixes universal and congregational terms freely — and confusingly. Again, our net is empty.
We tried to convert people — and did. We baptized them, dried them off, and wrote their names on the roll book. Yet, later inspection shows many missing from the pews; mal-nurtured victims. Our net has holes in it! Other converts manifest an unchanged worldly character; victims of poor or no training. Our net is not only empty, it is troubled.
We build classrooms, meet with our children in classes from toddlers upward. We follow quarterlies and teach lessons, but when they are grown, they know almost nothing about the Bible — and believe even less. Our net is empty; our hearts broken; the pews empty of our children..
Elders are busy. They carefully manage the funds, maintain the building, schedule meetings, arrange classes, keep a preacher. Yet souls entrusted to their
care just slip away. They worry and shake their heads. The net is empty.
None of these things have to be this way. We have problems because we are fishing on our own. We are enchanted with our own wisdom. We continue to do what we have always done. We are impressed with ourselves. And we fail in our folly.
There is good news; there is a solution! Cast the net on the other side of the boat. It is time that we abandon our thinking and bow before the Lord. With whatever reservations we have — like Peter, we say, Nevertheless at Your word. We must open the book and let the Lord speak. His counsel is our guide. Nevertheless at Your word I will— His words guide us; we seek instruction — answers for ourselves — not others. And when they had done this— It is not enough to nod heads and talk. We must do something! Get our act together, obey the Lord, and results will take care of themselves. No one fails while following Jesus: they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
Bible Comments, 32, a publication by Joe Fitch originally intended for distribution among small congregations in Texas.
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