We just wrapped up our Collide Chattanooga 2013 Conference at our church. This was a youth meeting that brought powerful worship and ministry to the auditorium at Abba’s House, and featured Damon Thompson, Dutch Sheets, Chris Brooks, Ronnie Phillips Jr., Rick Pino, Eddie James, Abby Brown, and more. There was restoration, healing miracles, deliverance, and the overwhelming Presence of God. With nearly 2,000 youth and adults gathered together, hungry for the presence of God, the atmosphere was electric.
On the last afternoon of the conference, they took the crowd out to the TN River and had a mass baptism. Hundreds of young people and adults stepped into the water, and made a public statement that they were “burying the old man”, and going on with God in freedom. It was an awe-inspiring site as hundreds gathered on the banks, dozens were baptized at once, and even boaters stopped just outside of the “swimming area” where the baptism was taking place, just to watch.
That evening, when the last session began, one of my staff got up on the stage to do some announcements. He looked out at the audience and said, “I look out here at your faces tonight, and I see the love of Jesus. But I just gotta say… you guys smell like fish!”
The audience laughed as he continued.
“Now, that’s not so bad. Any fisherman worth his salt is going to smell like fish. And here’s the deal… Jesus called you all to be fishers of men.”
What a great analogy! In Matthew 4:19, Jesus commands His disciples to “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Any good fisherman is going to get his hands dirty. Any good fisherman is going to get scrapes, cuts, and bruises. A good fisherman knows going into it that, in order to be successful, it’s going to require having “skin in the game”. Fish are unpredictable. Fish are sometimes slippery and hard to handle. They have scales and fins that are slippery and sometimes sharp. However, any good fisherman knows that catching fish means embracing the task, and that in most cases, the fish that is hardest to land is usually the one most worth having. The more fish a fisherman hauls in, the more he is going to smell like that catch.
As fishers of men, that should be us. If we are going to win the lost, we must follow the example of Jesus, and be willing to get our hands dirty. Sometimes the people we witness to are skeptical and hard-hearted. Still, we must be diligent in our witness, fervent in prayer, and committed to the task, regardless of the squalls, storms, and hardships along the way.
Someday, I will stand before God. I long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter in!”
But in my mind’s eye, as I turn to enter in, I can see Jesus catching my attention, smiling at me, and with a wink saying…
“Ron… you smell like fish!”