RITE OF PASSAGE: The EnterNet
A woman began relating a story about her young children. She said they were pretending to make a trip across the prairie in a covered wagon. They loaded bags of imaginary salt, beans, seeds, nails and other necessities of survival into their makeshift wagon. Then they settled into their seats at the front of the vehicle and said their good-byes. As they got the imaginary horse moving along the trail, the woman’s 8-year-old daughter yelled over her shoulder, “We’ll send an e-mail when we get there!”
E-mail, e-mail, e-mail. Everyone has e-mail! Grandmas, grandpas, children and grandchildren all have e-mail. I travel to remote places in the world, places where I cannot even make a telephone call. Somehow, though, I can still check my e-mail. What did we do before we had this almost-instant, almost-always-present method of communication? I wish I could remember!
Next to fire or the wheel, I cannot think of anything that has had a greater impact on society than the Internet. (If you do not believe that wheels are important, you have never had a 16-year-old in your home.) I wonder if Jesus would have used e-mail? What would His address have been? Maybe [email protected] or [email protected]? What about [email protected] or even [email protected]?
Even if He did not use e-mail, Jesus was certainly into the “Net.” Not the Internet . . . the “EnterNet.” Those who get caught in His net enter . . . into a relationship with Him. They enter . . . into eternal life. They enter . . . into the fruit of the Spirit and enter . . . into the body of Christ. Did you know that Jesus, as far as I can tell, never used a hook? At least, hooks are never mentioned in the Bible. In the Gospel accounts, He told the fishermen who were mending their nets, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, Mark 1:17).
So why do we use a fishing hook as a symbol of our Christian faith? I would like to share with you three distinct reasons why I believe that is incorrect. First, a net is designed so that fish that are not ready to be harvested will be given more time to mature. The net will only hold the ones that are ready. The smaller fish will swim easily away.
How many people have been “hooked” or buttonholed for the Gospel when the Holy Spirit had not brought them along to the point of readiness? How many have been wounded and left with scars? Most likely, you will never see them again. The hook hurts, but the net brings them in . . . unharmed.
Second, a hook only catches one fish, but a net catches many. In most churches, the pastor is considered the fisherman. The congregation herds people into the stained glass aquarium so the pastor can throw out his hook and reel one down to the front of the church. That way, all of the people can say “Amen!” when he holds up his catch.
Instead, God has called each of us to be a part of the net. Its success depends on each section doing the job for which it was designed. Every part is important as they all work together toward a common goal.