Eagle Devotional: Fishing For Our Children
Tip-Off: When it comes to following Christ, one of the core elements of the Christian faith is evangelism (reaching all people with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ). When Jesus first called His disciples (some former fishermen), He told them:
“Come and follow Me, and I will show you how to fish for people” (Matt. 4:19).
After Jesus is crucified and rose again, He shares with them what we know as the Great Commission:
“Go, and make disciples, of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always…” (Matt. 28).
The final words of Christ in Acts 1:8, provide the first location we are to fish for people.
“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere – in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Halftime: At first glance, it might appear that these “fish” Jesus wants us to catch are those far away in distant lands. But the first place Jesus directs them to fish is Jerusalem – right in their own backyard where they lived their everyday lives. They were in Jerusalem at the time. Could it be that Jesus calls us to first reach those closest to us: our own children and families? They are indeed our greatest responsibility and gift from God. When it comes to “making disciples”, our children should be at the top of the list.
As we can see from the progression of Jesus’s journey with His disciples, He is not content with fishing only. If you have ever done any fishing, the goal is not to merely dangle your line in the water. The scenery might be nice, but the joy is in the catching! Jesus is clearly interested in catching fish.
But then He doesn’t stop with just catching. He takes it to the next level. Fishing, in and of itself, isn’t so messy; but catching gets really messy. There is a great responsibility on the part of the person doing the fishing. This is where the real work begins and we have to get our hands dirty. Once they are caught, the fish have to be cleaned. But Jesus doesn’t stop there with His analogy of fishing for people. The process of making disciples of these cleaned fish takes time and investment. These fish have to be saturated (baptized) and marinated in relationship with their heavenly Father, the lordship of Christ, and taught how to live each day empowered and dependent on the Holy Spirit.
Fourth Quarter: Evidently these “fish” also need a good deal of instruction – instruction by demonstration – coming alongside them to authentically walk out this journey called the Christian life. They need to see someone faithfully walk with Jesus in humility. Why the need for authentic demonstration with our children? These “fish” that live in our homes can smell a poser or a fake a mile away. They need more than words; they need to see the action of the Gospel. They need to see the grit and moxie of following Jesus – the kind we read about in the Bible. The disciples were using nets to fish, but, for the sake of discussion in terms of individual evangelism, fish are drawn by “bait” and “lures” that are authentic, looking like the real thing – Christ Himself. Our children see us acting a certain way on Sundays, but they might see someone different at home. They know from the Bible what a Christian is supposed to be and how they are to live, but they might see something very different in us. They need someone to help them “connect the dots” between the Truth and the Way of Jesus that produces His Life. They are not looking for perfection. We all know the only perfect One is God, but they need someone whose integrity resonates with the life of Christ.
At The Buzzer: Parents, we are those ones God has called to reach our children for Christ and His Kingdom. Recalling the last words of Christ found in Acts 1:8 –
“But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere…”
We are not alone in this process of fishing, catching, cleaning: “I am with you always…” – we have been given the Spirit of God Himself. It is the primary reason Christ provides for giving us His Spirit: “telling people about [Jesus]”. We are not powerless. It is His power, not ours.
Overtime: How do we model and demonstrate authentic and real Christianity to our children in a way that would make following Jesus desirable to them?
Follow Jesus, submit to His lordship, and obey His Word. We can tell them to do these things all we want, but God calls us to lead by example. We are saved by grace through faith, and we walk out the Gospel of Christ by grace and faith on a daily basis, constantly dependent on Holy Spirit’s power. Example: do they see us studying God’s Word daily? Do they see us spending time in prayer? Do they hear us talking about God and how to connect God’s Word to everyday life?
Live with integrity and humility. Be convicted by Holy Spirit when we sin. Admit when we are wrong, not just empty apologies. Example: if we have been harsh or unkind toward our children, going back and making it right. “Will you please forgive me? I was wrong in the way I spoke to you. I did not represent the heart of God toward you.” Nothing kills a message like hypocrisy.
For additional fishing ideas, see Eagle Devo: Redeeming the Time…