The Other Fisherman
James R. Aist
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17). That sounds like an exciting adventure, doesn’t it? But there is another fisherman, a sinister one, lurking about on the earth, also fishing for people…people like you and me! Maybe you have already had a run-in with him. If you have, what can you do about it? Let’s find out about this “other” fisherman.
Fishing for Fish
Think with me, for a moment, about how we fish for fish. We load a hook with attractive and “delicious” bait. Then, we cast our line into a place where there are, hopefully, hungry fish looking for something to eat. A fish notices the bait, and it looks like it might be good to eat. So, he swims over to it, getting close enough to confirm that it probably would be good to eat. Next, he takes just a little nibble, to get a taste. Finding that it does, indeed, taste good, he opens wide and takes the whole bait, hook and all. As he begins to swim away and prepares to enjoy his bite of food, there is a sudden and violent tug, and a sharp hook becomes inextricably embedded in the flesh of his mouth. It hurts terribly, so he struggles to swim away and shake the hook loose, but to no avail.
At this point, we have complete control of our snagged fish. We can reel him in quickly if he is in the clear, or we can pull him to the right or to the left to prevent him from swimming into the weeds or a submerged brush pile and getting the line tangled up, making it difficult for us to “land” him. He will go wherever we want him to go, and there’s not a thing he can do about it. Maybe, just for sport, we will “play” with him for a while before landing him, just to see him struggle and “break the water.” But, inevitably, we will capture and secure him. He will still struggle to free himself, but he doesn’t have the strength to get away. Eventually, we will kill and devour him.
Fishing for Men
When Jesus said, “I will send you out to fish for people”, He meant that we would seek those who are “lost’, proclaim to them the “Good News”, and help them to receive the gifts of saving faith and eternal life. This is quite a different and much more desirable outcome than what happened to the fish!
But there is another one in our midst who also fishes for men. This fisherman has in mind just the opposite of what Jesus had in mind. He is to us more like we are to the fish. He loads his hook with attractive bait to lure us close enough to get a better look. When we see that the bait looks good to eat, we take a nibble, just like a fish does. Then, when we find that it tastes good, we go for the whole thing, just as a fish does when he is about to get “hooked.” Once this sinister fisherman has jerked the line to set his hook in us, he has control of us. He can pull us in any direction he wants us to go, just like a fish on our line. And, he can force us to go wherever he wants us to go. When he has gotten his jollies by “playing” with us, he reels us all the way in and takes us captive. Try as we may, we cannot, under our own power, free ourselves. Eventually, he will devour us, just like we devour the fish we catch.
Foiling the Other Fisherman
How can we protect ourselves from this sinister fisherman, the devil? First, we can learn about his wily ways by reading the relevant passages in the Bible. This will help us to not be fooled by either the bait (temptations) he casts our way or by the deceitful thoughts [e.g., “Did God really say, ‘You must not…” (Genesis 3:1)] that he puts into our minds. Second, we can make sure that we are submitting ourselves to God; then, we can “resist the devil and he will flee from us.” (James 4:7). Third, like Jesus, we can command him, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). And fourth, if he does manage to get his hooks into us, then we can repent, come to our senses, and escape the “snare” of the devil (2 timothy 2:26)! So, let’s keep our guard up and send this sinister fisherman packing with an empty creel!
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