Business and Missions

Here’s a simple food for thought: Did Jesus actually call Peter away from the fishing business? Or did He call him away from just a particular day’s operations?

As always, everything I write here is strictly an expression of my personal perspective on this subject, and must not be construed as a binding doctrine.

So, what do you think? Did Jesus actually call Peter away from the fishing business? Or did He call him away from just a particular day’s operations?

To get you started, here’s a familiar scripture:

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
~ Matthew 4:18-20

The scripture above has inspired many people through the ages to abandon their businesses and careers and go into the so-called ‘Full-time ministry’.

But, did Jesus actually call Peter away from the fishing business? Or did He call him away from just a particular day’s operations?

Here’s what Jesus said: “…I will make you fishers of men.” And a while ago, it occurred to me that Jesus never added “… and you will no longer be required to catch fishes,” in that call.

Those guys were fishermen; and that’s a whole lot more than a bunch of nets, boats, and lines; it included their personalities, mindsets, and skills —things they could never ‘walk away from.’ In other words, fishing wasn’t just what they did, it was who they were; it was wired right into the fabric of their beings. So, whereas they could easily leave their nets to follow Jesus, it would have been practically impossible to leave their life’s skills.

I do not think that Jesus actually called Peter away from the fishing business. If anything, subsequent events clearly show that Jesus wanted them to remain engaged in the business and use it for the benefit of the kingdom. For instance, the following story:

After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” he replied.
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes-from their own sons or from others?”
“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the sons are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four- drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
~ Matthew 17:24-27

Jesus actually instructed Peter to go back to fishing! Who would have thought. And, who knows; Peter may have wondered at that too.
“Lord,” I can imagine him scratching his head, “I thought you told me to quit fishing?”

But, you see, Jesus never told Peter to quit fishing. Jesus never said “I will make you fishers of men, and you will stop catching fish.” Idle and lazy religion may have added it there; but Jesus definitely didn’t.

Instead, as I see it, Jesus’ point was that henceforth, the business of catching fishes would be subservient to, and fund the fishing for men..

But, did Peter and the Twelve get it?

I don’t think so. Otherwise, why would they allow new converts to liquidate their real estates just to buy food for free loaders?

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”
~ Acts 2:44-45

You think that was nice? I think it was a dumb stewardship of God’s resources. Of course it must have felt good for a while, but we all know how that adventure ended. God scattered them —just like He did with that other touchy-feely fraternity called the Tower of Babel.

“…On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.”
~ Acts 8:1

Ultimately, it impoverished the Jerusalem Church.

Apostle Paul, on the other hand — and thankfully so — appeared to have gotten Jesus’ point.

“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
~ Acts 18:1-4

Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a tent maker. But unlike Peter, Paul continued to employ his marketplace skills in order to fund his missions.

“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “
~ Acts 20:33-35

And he set his example forth as a model for the Elders of the church: the so-called bishops and overseers of today.

Furthermore, the various policies he instituted in the gentile churches clearly suggest that he considered the Jerusalem practice a mistake, and that he learnt from them.

Here’s a couple:

#1. No more free loaders.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10

So no more waiting for some rich new convert to sell their real estate so some freeloading church folks can have some food — as was the case in the Jerusalem churches under Peter. Instead,Paul ruled, ‘no work, no food.’

#2. Widows welfare list should include only truly helpless widows

No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband…
~ 1Timothy 5:9-16

Even then, he would only let in those widows who had no believing family members that could take care of them. Otherwise, he ruled that “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.”

Then he instructed younger widows to get married, and to continue to be resourceful.

In his various letters to the churches, Paul made it clear that being a believer should never translate to being a liability to the church.

In the end, while the Jerusalem churches wallowed in poverty, the churches that embraced Paul’s paradigm thrived. Eventually, those Gentile churches had to bail out the Jerusalem ones! (1Corinthians 16:1-4)

And by the time he got to Jerusalem, things had gone so downhill that some believers couldn’t even carry out their religious vows because of the lack of funds!

“There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved.”
~ Acts 21:23,24

The Elders of the Jerusalem church (James and company) had to ask Paul (A visiting missionary and guest) to foot their bill!

The history of the early church points to the fact that, ultimately, Paul’s paradigm of resourcefulness and diligence trumped the irresponsible lazy practice of the Jerusalem believers. Even Paul himself testified to that.

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
~1 Corinthians 15:10

• He traveled more.
• He planted more churches.
• He wrote more letters.
• He even suffered more afflictions!

Why did Paul excel the rest of his peers in the ministry by so wide a margin?

Was he more anointed than the Twelve? I personally don’t think so.

Was he better funded than the others? I think so.

How do you intend to fund your divine mission?

To have a song and not be able to produce it, to have a manuscript and not be able to publish it, to have a movie and not be able to produce it, to feel compassion in your heart and not be able to materially express it, to burn with passion for the salvation of distant lands and not be able to make the trip —that’s what I call the mother of all frustrations.

On the other hand, to operate a constant public ‘beg-a-thon’ all in the name of ‘sowing to the Lord’ — well, that’s a tragedy.

And as for manipulating and guilt-wringing their hard earned money out of the terrified and gullible religious masses —I lack words to describe its wretchedness.

Think seriously about this:
How do you intend to fund your mission?


Well, I’m all for Paul’s style; something he probably learnt from Jesus original intentions in calling Peter.