Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fish Fry

Some of the great memories I have from my childhood are of the times my family spent at Lake Greenwood. We boated, swam, fished, and just sat around being lazy. To make it even more fun, some great friends of ours had a trailer right in front of ours, right on the lake. These friends also lived about a mile from our house back in Greer.

We caught a lot of fish, mostly brim, and crappie, and we almost always cleaned and cooked them. Most of the time we ate them while we were at the lake, but some of the fish were frozen and brought home. These fish were being saved for the fish fry later.

I can remember many of those fish fry Friday nights. They were special. Maybe it was because we were at home, and got to enjoy fresh fried fish, or maybe it was just the friends who we were able to see once more, either way, it was a memorable time.

I was in Greenwood earlier this week, and passed a Captain D’s seafood restaurant. On the sign were the words, “FISH FRY”. My first thought was, “Do they serve any other kind of fish?” Why does a Captain D’s, who mainly serves fried seafood, need to tell people they have fried fish?

If you are driving by a Captain D’s or Long John Silver’s do you need to be informed what you might eat when you get inside? I don’t think so. Fried fish at one of these restaurants is not special. Everyone knows what they serve. On the other hand, if they were to have a fish fry at my house, that would be special.

When the general public drives by a church, they generally have a notion of what they would experience if they came inside. They would expect to hear about Jesus, or God, or love, or something of the sort. They would probably not be surprised to find talk of such things within the walls of a church building. That is not different or unique.

However, if the message of Jesus’ love for us is demonstrated in our lives outside the church walls, then we have something that will get the attention of the world. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t gather and worship. We should. But thinking that it ends at noon on Sunday is a mistake.

When we take the attitude of thinking that Jesus can only be found inside the church walls, we have reduced ourselves to a “members only” club. Do we need to put up a sign in front of the church that reads “Find Jesus Here”? People already expect that. We really need to wear a button on our shirt that reads, “Ask me about Jesus”.

It is wonderful to hear the Gospel preached in church. However, just as those fish fry Friday nights from my childhood were special because they were in an unexpected place, the Gospel is even more special when it is done and lived out each day of our lives instead of just at church.

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. (Matthew 4:18-20 The Message)

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