To listen to the audio teaching of these notes click on
We’ve come to our third core value – fishing the world – which helps us be and become God’s Beloved Child(ren). To fully appreciate the meaning of this third value we need to re-look at Jesus and his essential message and mission: The Kingdom of God.
Jesus and the Kingdom of God (read Mark 1:14-20)
Mark’s text summarizes Jesus’ ministry: Wherever he went he proclaimed and inaugurated “The Kingdom of God.” What did it mean? It was the dramatic end-time (“eschatalogical”) socio-political announcement of The End & New Beginning: The climax of Israel’s destiny and world history has come – both judgment and salvation – God is now becoming King in fulfillment of the prophets. It meant confrontation: The kingdom (rule and works) of evil is being judged and people are being saved into God’s Rule & Reign of Love. The promised future age of God’s Kingdom was breaking into this present evil age, changing everything!
How do we escape judgment and enter God’s Kingdom? “Repent and believe.” To repent is to turn from sin to God, changing your mindset. Believe means opening yourself to God’s great works of salvation, entrusting yourself to his Rule & Reign in Messiah Jesus. “Repent and believe” in practice meant “Come, and follow me.” Jesus embodied God’s Kingship, his presence and power. To follow him was to be delivered from Satan’s rule and enter and experience God’s Kingdom of Heaven here on earth… in Jesus of Nazareth.
That, in turn, as we’ve seen, meant following Jesus in community: to join him is to join his local Kingdom community, God’s working model of his heavenly society on earth. And that community belonging is to form (“make”) us into God’s instrument of salvation. We follow to be formed to fish – to participate in the Missio Dei (Mission of God), saving humanity and planet earth: “For God so loved the world that he gave” not only his Son, but his followers!
Why fishing? Why “fishers of people”? Because Jesus first called fishermen to follow him, but more importantly, to fulfill prophecy. This young rabbi knew his Hebrew Scriptures, basing his Kingdom mission on them. He was enacting the well-known end-time role of YHWH “fishing” for judgment and salvation (Jer 16:16, Ezek 29:4f, 38:4, Amos 4:2, Hab 1:14-17). This was probably the basis of Jesus’ ‘fishing parable’ of the Kingdom (see Matt 13:47-50). He saw himself as fishing people out of exile – the reign of sin, sickness, demons and death – into God’s Kingdom. He was good news to all who repented and believed, but bad news to all who rejected him and his message (bringing judgment on themselves). He saw ALL who responded to him as his co-messengers (evangelists) of the Kingdom. So, the summons to be “fishers of people” is the dramatic call to the eschatalogical task of gathering people into the Ark of God’s Kingdom in view of the forthcoming flood of judgment.
Did Jesus not, therefore, intentionally begin his ministry by first calling fishermen to be “fishers of people”? Yes! But it’s clear that he called people from all walks of life to follow him by joining his repenting and believing community. The point is: Jesus’ call in following him is to form us into using whatever occupies our time to advance his Kingdom. I.e. we live out our Kingdom vocation (calling) through our daily occupation (work). Builders build people for the Kingdom, mothers become mothers for the Kingdom, business people do business for the Kingdom, and so on. There is NO divide between ‘the secular’ and ‘the sacred’, between ‘work’ and ‘ministry’. We live ONE integrated life under God: our work IS our mission/ministry in society, and our mission is our work… to fish people for God!
So, whatever occupies our daily time is our first place/means of witness (evangelism) in the world. What we do at home is unseen, what we do daily ‘out there’ (occupation, work, career, business) is public, seen by all. How we do it is our witness to God and his Rule & Reign in our lives – or lack thereof! People form an impression of God for better or for worse depending on how you work, how you behave in the work place. As Francis of Assisi said, “preach the gospel at all times by all means possible, and as a last resort use words.” Who you are, what and how you do things, preaches louder than your words. Being bad news when you’re trying to preach good news seriously turns people off God, off Jesus.
To witness (Acts 1:8, Greek martyria) means to die to self, even physically if required, for Christ’s sake. The early Christians called it ‘white’ and ‘red’ martyrdom. ‘White’ is witness to the world in our daily dying to our sin, agenda, lower nature and brokenness, by the practice of: “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me!” (Mk 8:34) ‘Red’ is physical martyrdom. Two suicide bombers killed 15 Christians in worship last Sunday, in Lahore, Pakistan. The early church father Tertullian (d 215 AD) said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Therefore, do not be ashamed of Jesus and the Gospel (Mk 8:38, Rom 1:16), it REALLY IS the power of God for salvation to all who believe.