Keys to the Kingdom – Carolyn Tucker
When Elvis Presley, American icon, concluded his concerts and exited the stage, Ed Hill, gospel quartet singer and stage announcer would say: “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.“ This statement had to be made for the sake of the devoted fans. Otherwise, they would not leave their seats and go home because they were hoping Elvis would come back out and do an encore, or at least take another bow. Some still say, “Elvis may have left the building, but his fans are still there.“
I recently saw a t-shirt that read, “The Church has left the building.” That’s a powerful and scriptural declaration. The Bible repeats incidences of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day criticizing Him because He associated with sinners. He spent very little of His ministry preaching in the Temple. He went where the people were. Today, can we effectively proclaim Christ Jesus outside the walls of a church environment? I think so. Every concert Elvis gave would include some gospel music, confirming that Christ can be proclaimed in diverse venues. Thousands of people, who skipped out on attending church, were impacted by the gospel message of “How Great Thou Art.”
One day when Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw professional fishermen Simon Peter and Andrew casting their net into the water. They must have had a hungering in their hearts, for when Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,“ they immediately hung up their nets and followed Him.
If you’re going to fish, you have to go where the fish are. You can’t catch a fish up in a tree, nor can you expect them to jump out of the water into your arms. If you’re going to fish for men, you must go where the people are. You shouldn’t expect them to come to the church building, although occasionally they do. And in that case, how do you treat them when they walk into the building? Do they leave thinking they’ve been loved by the Body of Christ?
Jesus fished for men everywhere He went. Scriptures reveal that He ate supper at the home of Simon the leper (Mark 14:30). He taught and ate dinner at the home of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). He disrupted a funeral procession just outside the village of Nain (Luke 7:11-15). Yes, Jesus attended weddings and visited cemeteries and everything in-between. He preached in the synagogues, but the religious leaders usually wanted to kill Him, so he fished elsewhere.
Exiting the sanctuary is where the rubber meets the road. When the Church (believers) leave the building, they have a God-given responsibility to fish for men. When you’re around people, that’s your opportunity to fish. Jesus has left planet earth, but His followers are still here. So always use the bait of love, and remember that you catch ‘em and Jesus cleans ‘em.
The Key: Like the dead boy of Nain, get up, get out, and go fishing in Jesus‘ name!