Learning to Speak Fish

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dennis peacockeby Dennis Peacocke

May 2009

“And He said to them, ‘Follow Me,
and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Mt. 4:19)

There are numbers of scriptures that remind Christians that they are “strangers in a strange land.” We are reminded: that we are ambassadors from another Kingdom (Col. 1:13); to live in that “alternative” Kingdom reality (John 18:36); to focus on the differences between the customs and practices of the Kingdom and the world system (2 Cor. 10:3-5); destined for a separate future (Rom. 8:17-21) and numerous other admonitions of the believers called to be a separated people. However, there are a similar number of biblical admonitions to love our neighbors (Lev. 19:18, Mt. 22:39), pray for the world system’s leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-2); conduct ourselves with utmost love and concern for all mankind (Rom. 12:18); and to live and function as “salt and light” to our surrounding cultures. In other words, while Christians are to live in the reality of their faith, they are likewise to live in the reality of our common bonds with all of God’s created humanity.

Jesus, as we should all expect, gave us a perfect picture of a universal human (“the Son of Man”) living with complete identification with the surrounding culture of His environment, but doing so in a perfect representation as an ambassador of another culture, realm, and dimension. He identified with His Jewish roots, His family ties, His common human dignity with women, foreigners, and civil obligations. He was perfectly “separate” and perfectly “identified” simultaneously. He modeled what Christians should be and do, and what religious people are totally incapable of doing: fully relating to all mankind without ever losing His own identity.

In order to become “fishers of men,” believers must learn to speak and be capable of thinking “fish.” We must learn their language, or for many of us, remember the secular language we spoke when we only spoke “fish.” I have often humorously commented over the years to audiences that, “I have the tenth gift of the Holy Spirit, and that is, the ability to still think as a heathen!” I always follow that up with a request: “please don’t pray for me to stop it; I love the earth’s people and want desperately to relate to all people who will relate to me.” Love is compelling. I speak the language of the people to whom I am an ambassador. I don’t use all their language, but I once did and fully know why they use it and what their words are trying to express. Many of their words express harshly fear, frustration, anger, injustice, and just the simple reality that life is neither fair, nor easy. I agree; so did Jesus, the Man of “grief and sorrow,” who lived in a fallen world.

If you truly love people, you will learn their language even if you do not use all of it. Right now is a golden opportunity for those of us who do love people to work very hard at translating our biblical truths into their secular language.  Obviously, as a political-economist that is my calling, especially in these times where my calling and specialty is the subject of massive global concern. But beyond that, the question for all of you is, «Do you speak ‘fish’?» How are you translating your spiritual love language into the language of the indigenous people who surround you? Real love is always….. the bottom line.