One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. (Luke 5:1-9 CEB)
When I read this verse I am reminded of my own sinfulness and unfaithfulness as a minister of the Gospel. Too often we spend time trying to get church people to come to church. Our churches for the most part are set up to attract other people who like church. Even when we plant churches we are really just planting a newer improved model of what has worked for us in the past. Open up another box and they will show up we tell ourselves.
I have begun to see this as fishing in the shallow waters. There is very little risk involved. Sometimes it actually works and we get fish to swim out of other people’s nets and come into our nets. The problem is this shallow fishing is that it has become full of boats and nets that are newer than ours and have more technology than ours and more skilled fishermen than ours.
Jesus tells Simon Peter to row out a little further, into the deep water. Simon Peter starts to complain master I have worked hard and caught nothing. I remember all those times that I have complained about the other fishermen in my community especially the ones with the new fancy boats that have taken my fish. I complain and tell Jesus it’s too hard.
Those fish in the deep are messy.
Those fish have never been in a net before so you know they are going to be unruly.
Those fish don’t look or act like the fish that I am used to.
Those fish might require us to change our nets and boats entirely.