We held a men's retreat for the men of our church. The theme was, "The Greatest Thrill, Becoming Fisher's of Men!" It has stirred me with a thought that has continued to linger in my head. It is like when we get a tiny break in the clouds and a little sunlight breaks through. It is as if a tiny glimpse of the heart of God broke through and I can't get past it.
The ray of light that penetrated my heart began with my brother sharing out of Jeremiah 16 a passage that pointed to the Judgement and Redemption of Israel.
“Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the , and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.Click to read the entire chapter
In the same way God pursued men for judgement, He also pursues them for redemption. In fact the judgement of God is nothing other than the Lord revealing to men their need for deliverance from their sins. It is the way that God pursues men that I have not been able to escape. He pursues with a Relentless Pursuit. That is the character and heart of God. This passage ends with God expressing His desire for men to know His power, His might, and to know His Name Yahweh!
When Jesus then says in Matthew 4:19 "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of of men." He is revealing His heart of relentless pursuit of men! And chooses men that were already in a relentless pursuit of fish. They could fish ALL night and not catch anything without giving up and still let down their nets one more time at a strangers suggestion.
We so easily miss the heart of God in His word and in our lives. There is a depth to Him that makes it hard for us to fathom when we love to swim at the surface and in the shallow water. In the depth of His character we see He does have a heart that is relentless in His pursuit of men, but WHY? He has a relentless love that manifests in a relentless pursuit of men. It is why we see time and time again God pursuing men with His faithful and gracious love. John 3:16 "For God so LOVED, He SENT His son." God has a relentless love for you and me! God has a relentless love for your neighbor and lost sinners. Do you?
Jesus always connected love for God with love for others. The great commandment reflects this reality with perfect clarity. All the law and prophets hang on loving God and loving others. Peter after being called to become a fisher of men goes back to catching fish after Jesus death. Jesus meets him again on the very shore he called them out of their boats the first time. He connects for Peter love for the Lord with a love for others. He asks him "Peter do you love me?" to which Peter proclaims he does, then Jesus commands him "Then feed my sheep." (Read passage here) Jesus is trying to connect love for the Lord and love for others. Peter's life is no longer marked by betrayal, but rather a relentless pursuit of men as a fisher of men.
It is such an incredible thing when a fish gets out of the fish bowl, picks up a fishing pole, and starts to fish because he loves God and others more than himself. A little scary too!
Lord help us to love you and others enough to pursue you and others with a relentless love that causes us to pick up the fishing pole and proclaim the greatness of your love this week....Amen!