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Called to Fish

Catchin' anything?

The Celtic Revival: Beginnings (11)

                                                We believe
from every nation men will come and grieve        
for their iniquities and will receive
the Lord. And just as firmly, we believe
it is our obligation from the Lord
to diligently fish for men. His Word
is clear: “Come follow Me and I will make
you fish for men.” In this you’ll see I take
Him at His Word: “Behold, I’m sending out
so many fishermen and hunters.” Doubt
it not; it is His Word. From which you see
it is most clear, that all who wish to be
His followers are obliged to cast their nets
to catch a multitude of fish and get
a mighty gathering for the Lord.

  - Patrick, Confession (5th century)

The Lord chose him so that he might teach the barbarian
nations, so that he might fish with nets of doctrine;
so that he might draw believers out of the world to grace,
and they might follow the Lord to a heavenly seat.

  - Sechnaill, writing about Patrick, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 6th century[1]

When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

  - Luke 5.4

Fishers of men. We all know that this is the work to which Jesus called the disciples; and, in some vague and haunting way, we understand this to be our calling, too. Jesus instructs us to launch out into the waves of the unbelieving world and let down our nets for a catch.

Patrick took this calling seriously. He saw himself as doing only what the Lord commanded, and in his Confession, he simply reported on his efforts and how the Lord had blessed them. He firmly believed he was called to fish for men, and as Sechnaill, Patrick’s contemporary, further explained, “nets of doctrine” were Patrick’s preferred means.

These days, fishing for men in most churches looks a lot like waiting around for the fish to swim into our pool. We seldom launch out beyond the safe confines of our church building, and the “nets” we have chosen to use in drawing people to the grace of Jesus look more like the lures of self and entertainment than the hard but saving truths of God’s Word.

Patrick preached the Gospel of grace to the pagan Irish. He told them their idols could not save them, and their kings would not be able to deliver them from the coming judgment of God. He proclaimed the unfathomable love of God, Who calls even lowly, rustic bumpkins like Patrick to seek Him with all their heart, so that they might find Him and His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Patrick told those who heard him that following Christ is a difficult and demanding road, that they would have to lay aside their former beliefs and ways of living and be clothed with Jesus for a life of self-denial and service. He told them they might suffer for believing in Jesus. He insisted that they neither hesitate nor doubt. He explained that God demanded total obedience, sincere repentance, and earnest devotion to prayer and the Word of Christ.

And they heard his preaching and believed the Gospel by the thousands.

Patrick launched himself into the depths of Irish paganism, immorality, ignorance, and unbelief, and unleashed the nets of God’s Word, believing God would enable him to catch a great multitude for Christ. Where are the witnesses today who think like this? Who take God’s Word seriously, and encourage other believers to live as fishers of men? Where are the church members who every day launch out into the deep waters of their Personal Mission Field, letting down their nets of loving service and ready witness, believing they will realize a great catch?

This is why we need to understand the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD). If we had the faith of Patrick, we would believe the Word of God and launch into the deeps each day. We have made the Christian life too confusing and complex: join our church, get involved, be in a small group, come to this seminar or course, learn these new praise songs, and on and on. “If our love were but more simple,” the old hymn has it, “we should take Him at His Word.” And His Word to each of us is the same as it was to Patrick: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Patrick followed Jesus, and all Europe was revived. What will happen if we follow Him?

For Reflection
1. Where will you let down your nets and fish today? How should you prepare for this?

2. How can you encourage other believers in their calling as witnesses for Christ?

Psalm 67.1-3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O bless us, Savior, by Your grace, and shine upon us with Your face,
That we Your way may loud proclaim and tell to all the earth Your fame!
    Let all the peoples praise You, Lord,
    Rejoicing in Your holy Word!
    Rejoicing in Your holy Word!

Let Your face shine on Me, Lord Jesus, that I may launch out today and…

Working your Personal Mission Field
We hope that you have discovered our monthly Personal Mission Field Workshop. Here you’ll find brief but useful instruction, encouragement, exercises, and resources to help you realize more of the presence, promise, and power of Christ’s rule in and through your life. Click here to view any or all our workshops.

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Carey, pp. 152, 153.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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