One of the many blessings that I received from growing up in the family that I did was having a love and appreciation for the outdoors passed along to me. One of the ways that this enjoyment played itself out was in several fishing trips that my family would take each summer. These trips were usually tied in with a camping trip so we would pack and load up our van and pull our boat behind us to various campsites in northern Minnesota. It is funny to think about all 7 of us crowded into this tiny fishing boat with a 35-horse motor. I have so many fond memories of adventures in that rusty trusty vessel. Whether it was running out of gas and having to use the trolling motor to get back, racing back to shore to beat a rainstorm, reeling in my first walleye, getting to drive it for the first time, or feeling the wind in my hair as we “sped” across the lake, these images and feelings are the kind that will stay with me forever.
When it comes to the sport of fishing, the principles of how it is done and accomplished have not changed very much since it was first invented as a means to get food or for recreation. The idea of a hook, line, and sinker have been with us for generations and while the materials may be different, the essential design and intent remains the same. It would be safe to say that the process for catching a fish has stayed relatively consistent throughout history.
The same cannot necessarily be said for how fast things like culture and society changes. As I write this, I am sitting up in Fergus Falls at the J-Term that Lutheran Brethren Seminary offers each year. It is a great time to get to see friends and colleagues and get some great teaching from the various speakers that are here to share and impart their knowledge and wisdom on a variety of topics related to ministry. One of the keynote speakers today shared with us about the realities of the ever-changing culture that we are living in and how fast things are moving as the years go by. This is not to say that people are so much different, but the ways that we think about the world around us have been reshaped in many ways. Our worldview in 2020 looks quite different than it did even 50 years ago. Now, this is also not to say that change is a bad thing or that these cultural shifts have all been negative. Rather, this speaker spent his time focusing on the reality of these trends and cultural shifts and offered insight on practical ministry applications that naturally spring up as a result of these changes. The opportunity for sharing and spreading the Gospel is still there and still needed even in a fluid culture. The implications for sharing and living out our faith as followers of Christ still remain as important and valuable as ever.
As we look at this week at the Parable of the Net in Matthew 13, I am struck by an encouraging truth from these two examples of fishing and culture. It should be a blessing to know that even though the elements of fishing have changed and even though our worldviews as humanity have shifted throughout the generations, the Gospel has not. It has stayed true and consistent and our inviting God has never wavered or halted in His pursuit of us to be His children. How amazing is that?! Throughout all of history, one essential constant has been at the forefront of all that is right and true for eternity. The God of the Universe continues to cast out His wide net into all of the world, to reach people with His love, to reveal to them their need for His grace, and to invite them into His family. Let us be encouraged again at this extraordinary and extravagant grace that pursues, invites, claims, restores, and redeems us as sinful human beings. Let us rejoice that God’s love for us and His Word to us are constant, consistent, and sure. We can trust Him and His promises to us as we move from one day, one year, one decade, one generation to the next. Now, that’s quite the catch!
Pastor Ben Bigaouette