Sunday, February 10, 2019

Evangelism - Fishers of Men and Bogeymen

At church, today's reading from the gospels was when Jesus told some fishermen "I will make you fishers of men." They would spend their lives drawing people into the kingdom of God. We've been drawn in, and in turn we draw others.

I'm not completely sure that evangelism deserves its bad reputation. Its bad reputation goes something like this: some horrible person (no doubt a white man) begins verbally abusing people, and his goal is to manipulate them into loathing themselves, into seeing themselves as horrible people, and into agreeing that he is the rescuer. He uses verbal shame attacks and guilt attacks. He blames them for any mistake they have ever made. He tells them that they deserve torture and hell for how bad they are. His goal is to orchestrate such a crescendo of self-doubt and self-loathing that they lose all hope in themselves; he will then offer the solution to the problem that he caused as the result of this sickly coercive psychological dance.

I'm not sure I've ever seen it done that way in real life. But that's the thing about the Bogey Man: it's not necessary for the threat to be real, only for the fear to be real. It still shapes how we think and act. We don't want to be that; we don't want to be seen as that; so we take the easy way and stay quiet.

As for the fishermen that day -- I'm working on the premise that Jesus knew what he was talking about -- they then spent their lives drawing people into the kingdom of God. They brought people into a place of welcome at the feast of salvation and in the world to come, where sins are forgiven and we become who God had created us to be. It is a redemption story, and our souls are healed.

They weren't bogeymen, but fishers of men. They worked towards bringing hope and restoring fellowship among the people of the world. How beautiful the sight of those who bring good news. May the fear of the bogeyman be banished, and the message of joy remain.


Martin LaBar said...

"How beautiful the sight of those who bring good news."

Weekend Fisher said...

Thank you for commenting. In thinking through this piece, I was interested to realize that, for fear-mongers, it doesn't matter if the story is real or the threat is legitimate so long as the fear is felt, because people will behave as if it were legitimate. It makes it plainer to me how some kinds of manipulation occur, and why people persist in acting as if the threat is real because the fear is real.

Take care and God bless
Anne / WF