When Jesus began assembling His church He invited His followers to be fishers of men. His disciples, some of whom were fishermen, understood the tremendous risk involved. It was clearly not a calling for the weak the heart.
If we Christians fully understood the scope of what Jesus asked His followers to do and actively pursued being fishers of men, I would suppose today's church would resemble a rescue ship. We, as followers of Christ, would always be at-the-ready; eager to go out and save those who are in spiritual distress. Nothing--not even high seas or forging into uncharted territory--would prevent us from carrying out our God-given mission.
People who work on rescue ships are very clear about their purpose. They are focused on one thing and one thing only: saving people.
That is what Jesus had in mind when He asked His followers to become fishers of men.
But, all too often, today’s church looks not so much like a rescue ship as it does a cruise ship. The primary concern of those on board is our comfort, our enjoyment, having our needs met. We sit back on our reclining pews, reading our favorite Bible translation, and expect to be waited on hand and foot. We have a sense of entitlement, reasoning that since we paid for it with our offerings and acts of service, the voyage should meet our every expectation.
On a cruise ship, if a need or a problem arises, passengers demand that the “help” solve it immediately. We even complain when the seas get a little choppy and expect the captain and crew to steer us back toward calm waters so we can be comfortable once again. If our experience does not meet our satisfaction, we simply find another cruise line.
Meanwhile, people all around us are dying. And so is the church.
It's easy to blame steadily declining church involvement on a cultural shift from biblical roots, time pressures, an anti-Christian media bias, children's sports programs, and boring and irrelevant worship services. But if we, as a church, were doing what we were called by Jesus Himself to do, there wouldn't be so many stained glass windows being boarded up. In fact, if we were serious about reaching out to those in need with the love of Jesus we'd need to build more churches.
Everywhere we look, there are people in danger. People who are crying out for help as they struggle to keep their heads above their marital problems, addictions, depression, debt. Some have observed many a ship cruise by without so much as throwing out a life line. They have given up hope that they will ever be saved.
The single biggest difference between a rescue ship and a cruise ship is that the people on a cruise ship are not all that concerned with what is going on outside the boat. We cannot possibly fulfill our commission to lovingly and selflessly respond to the needs of others if we see the voyage as all about us.
We Christians can’t miss the boat on this. This is about our very purpose. This is about being the people that God wants us to be. This is about showing unconditional, non-judgmental, Christ-like love to others who Jesus thought enough of to die for. Jesus isn’t interested in our being comfortable. He is interested in our being committed.