Becoming Fishers of Men

Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved. (Rom 10:9)

Evangelicals and many Catholics are prone to confess Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. This is good and commendable as far as it goes; however, we must remember that the proclamation of the Good News always has a socio-political dimension because Jesus came to challenge the present political order—Roman Empire—and to proclaim a new world order—the Kindom of God. The values inherent in the two realms are radically different.

Proclaiming Jesus as Lord is far more than acknowledging a personal savior. It is a direct challenge to the emperor and his dominion then and now. It is a challenge to the Roman Empire, the American Empire and any other worldly empire. Yes, Glen Beck, it is the social Gospel and we will run from our churches out into the world to secure justice for all!

Emperors, presidents and prime ministers have to embrace values which support and ever enhance the lifestyle of their constituents or they will be thrown out of office. Christians are required to proclaim that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the one to be followed. In his day, Jesus continuously challenged the values of empire and the religious leaders who were complicit with empire. We can do no less today.

On the feat of St. Andrew we sometimes paint a rosy picture of discipleship. The first apostles readily left their jobs as fishermen and followed Jesus. But there is more to the story. Being fishers of men is not about making converts. It is about calling leaders to justice and judging the rich. The pastor of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, relying on the biblical scholarship of Ched Myers,  put it this way:

Hear the words of Jeremiah, chapter 16, verse 16: “I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them” – meaning, the prodigal leaders of Israel! And elsewhere, the “hooking of fish” is used to convey judgment upon the rich by Amos, and upon the powerful by Ezekiel. Therefore, as Ched Myers puts it, “Taking this (fish-hooking) mandate for his own, Jesus is inviting common folk to join him in his struggle to overturn the existing order of power and privilege.”

We proclaim Jesus as Lord when we proclaim the Good News by working for justice. We proclaim the Good News when we challenge empire. We preach the Good News when we change our bloated affluent lifestyles to alleviate human misery and suffering. We announce the Good News when we abandon power and privilege to serve the needs of others—feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, educate the young, and proclaim a Jubilee Year of re-distribution of resources. This is Gospel. We liberate captives and set free the oppressed. This is Good News.

When we live by these Gospel values, we are shouting from the rooftops that Jesus is Lord, There is no other ruler worthy of that title. There is no other ruler worthy of our allegiance.

Leave a Reply