We have seen the problem of having zeal without knowledge, but there is another problem that is perhaps even more prevalent in Western churches today and that is the problem of having knowledge without zeal. It was mentioned above about how important zeal is, but that it needed to be balanced with wisdom and tact. The other extreme that I often see in Christians is that they have lots of knowledge, they know how one should evangelize, how one should NOT (they can often be particularly critical of other people’s methods of evangelism). There was a pastor who was approached by a certain Christian. The Christian said “Pastor I don’t like the way you evangelize.” The pastor graciously replied “perhaps you could tell me how you evangelize that I may learn something?” The Christian looked down and explained that he did not really evangelize. “Oh” the Pastor said “Well, I like the way that I evangelize better than the way you DON’T evangelize”. It is a strange truth that those who lack zeal will always find ways to criticize or discredit those who have it.
Another illustration that is a bit comical if it only it wasn’t so true. Concerning the body of Christ – that in her present condition she is very fat because she is always being fed the finest of the Word of God, but she is never exercising by going out to the highways and byways. So let us be those who have knowledge but also those who have zeal so that we can get off our behinds and get some exercise winning souls.
I read a certain story recently that explains things so very well. I wish to include here.
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year, these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually, they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, ‘the fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.? They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman.? They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns? and ‘the Month for Fishermen to Fish.? They sponsored costly nationwide and world-wide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait had been discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.? The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however: They didn’t fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. The board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology, but the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home, they never fished. Like the fishermen back home, they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said that they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on ‘the Necessity for Fishing,? one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”‘
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if, year after year, he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing’ (Robinson 21-23)
Much of the Western Church has become like these fishermen. They have meetings and clubs discussing fish and the dispositions of fish, but the one thing they do not do is FISH. This is a lack of zeal and passion for the lost. We need to ask the Lord to stir up the zeal that was once within us – that first love – that we can be effective, vibrant soul-winners. Amen!
Check back again soon