By James Merritt
Question: Is any fish you could catch worth $1 million?
Well one was to Michael Thompson.
Yes, he won $1 million for fishing and are you ready for this?
He never even left his living room! He never went to a lake, got into a boat or even baited a hook!
How you say?
Thompson, a stay-at-home dad from Minneapolis, who is studying to become a police officer, made fantasy-sports history by becoming America’s first FLW Fantasy Fishing champion and the first official winner of its $1 million grand prize.
Thompson’s payday is the largest payday in fantasy sports history.1
FLW Fantasy Fishing is an international, online fishing game that launched in February 2008. Fantasy Fishing Players in 123 countries picked bass pros who fished in seven Walmart FLW Tour tournaments, the nation’s premier professional bass fishing circuit. Imagine, winning $1 million with the click of a mouse from the comfort of your living room!
Well, unless you think money is the most important thing in life, I believe there is another catch far more valuable, far more fulfilling and far more satisfying than the virtual catching of a fish that you will never see.
Vastly more fulfilling is the catching of a person’s soul. It is more valuable than the entire world and will last for all eternity.
We can spend all eternity worshipping God, singing to God, praying to God, loving God, learning from God, serving God, but only here and only now do we have the opportunity to fish for people and to reach people for Christ.
If you are a follower of Christ, it is because somebody went fishing.
If you are it is because somebody decided that they needed to quit acting like a fish out of water and instead go fishing. But Jesus never meant for fishing to be a solo expedition.
Jesus wants us to be His fishing buddies.
He came to fish for men and he has never left the fishing business.
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read how some of the very first followers of Jesus made the best catch of all by making their first catch of human hearts. How they did it teaches us how we can make “the best catch.”
We Must Involve Ourselves In Cultivating Relationships
In verses 35-39 we read where Jesus was followed by two of John’s disciples out of curiosity.
They had never met Him before.
Jesus turns to them and begins the conversation by asking them a legitimate question: “What do you seek?” In other words, “What are you looking for?”
They respond with a question, “Where are you staying?”
Jesus sees an opening and simply says, “Come and see.” He could have just simply told them where He was staying, answered their question and walked away.
The reason He opened up to them was He saw an opening and He wanted to cultivate a relationship. He was willing to be involved in their lives.
He met them where they were at their own point of spiritual pilgrimage, to make an impact on their lives.
We must do the same.
A survey from the Institute of American Church Growth showed that somewhere between 75-90 percent of new believers come to Christ through a friend or an acquaintance with an established relationship who explains the good news on a one-on-one basis.
Who are you cultivating in your life?
We Must Invest Ourselves in Building Friendships
In verse 45 we read how after spending time with Jesus, Andrew went to his family and Philip went to a friend, Nathaniel.
One started at home and one started with his next-door neighbor, but they both started with people that they knew and people they had developed a relationship with.
Just a day or so before, Philip and Nathanael had one thing in common–neither one of them knew Jesus. Now one did and the other one didn’t, so one man who was formerly a sinner, now a follower of Jesus, goes to a man who is still a sinner, in order to try to help him become a follower of Jesus.
One of the biggest criticisms of Jesus given by the Pharisees was that He was called, “The friend of sinners.”
That is exactly what I am going to ask you to do.
I am going to ask you to become a friend of sinners.
It is not enough just to involve yourself in cultivating relationships, but you must involve yourselves in building friendships.
Jesus didn’t just hang out with sinners occasionally. He initiated contact with them. He built the friendship. He spent time with them.
The problem is, many of us have so removed ourselves from the world to be safe from the world’s influence, that the world is now safe from any influence that Christ wants to have through us.
You see Jesus understood that the greatest investment you will ever make is not in stocks, bonds, real estate or gold. The greatest investment you will ever make is in the lives of other people.
Do you know why?
Silver is not going to last for all eternity. Souls are. Possessions are not going to last for all eternity. People are. Who are you investing in?
We Must Invite Others by Extending Fellowship
Both Jesus and Philip extended simple invitations to “come and see.” Did you know the number one reason unchurched people start coming to church is because of the consistent encouragement of a trusted friend?
Who are you inviting?
Your assignment for this week is to write down the name of a neighbor, working associate, vendor, etc., you have no relationship with and think of one step you could take to establish the beginning of a relationship with that person–with the goal of moving that person a step closer to God.
You know what our church needs to be?
It needs to be a place where saved friends meet up with unsaved friends.
If we will become fishing buddies with Jesus and involve ourselves and invest ourselves in the lives of others, so that we can come to a point where we can invite them to a church that will love them and to a God that can change them, there is no the limit to where we can go with Jesus.
He always is interested in the best catch.
James Merritt is Lead Pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.
Published May 30, 2018