“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus…I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Romans 1:1, 14-15 ESV
In the beginning of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he informs us that he is a “follower of Christ” and a “fisher of men.” In fact, in order to understand the message of this doctrinal treasure chest of Romans, we must start here. God’s revelation of His great grace is intended to empower the fisherman to fish, not relieve him of fishing responsibilities.
Paul starts by saying he is a servant of Christ. This reveals the heart of a “follower.” A follower of Christ is committed to the agenda of Christ. A follower will go where He is going. And where is that? Luke 19:10 says He came to “seek and to save the lost.” A servant is available and ready to be a vital part of His search and rescue mission. By definition, a servant serves his master. If the master is on mission, then the servant will be on the same mission with his master.
Also, Paul says, as a “fisher of men,” that he is not in a position to choose which fish he will fish for. Paul does not excuse himself from sharing the Gospel with people that are not like him or ones that he doesn’t feel comfortable with. In fact, he says he is “under obligation” to reach out to every kind of person he encounters. He even lists some of those he knows he’ll run into – the civilized (“Greeks”), the unruly (“Barbarians”), the intellectual (“wise”), and the uneducated (“foolish”).
This opening revelation of Paul’s helps us practically on a number of levels. To be a servant of Christ reduces the complexity of our commitments to one very simple one – devotion to the Master. The only one the servant must please is Jesus. When you are on mission with Him, “seeking to save the lost,” you will be right in the middle of His will for your life. Serving the Master as He is on assignment pleases Him. So, who are you really trying to please and how are you a part of His mission to catch “fish”?
Secondly, the obligation of a “fisher of men” is to fish and catch whatever “fish” are swimming in the pond. It’s not enough just to get in the boat with Jesus. We can’t keep on expecting the fish to simply jump in the boat with us. And, just because we like using a particular kind of bait doesn’t excuse us from learning how to use other baits that will appeal to the other fish in the pond.
God has stocked the ponds with all kinds of people. It’s our responsibility to learn how to clearly communicate the Gospel to all the fish in the pond. Obviously, it’s up to the fish whether they will take the bait but we will be held accountable by the Great Fisherman if we don’t go fishing with the most effective fishing equipment and bait that is available to us. What are you doing to improve your skills as an effective “fisher of men?”