There was a popular crime drama television series in the 1960s that chronicled the cases of Los Angeles police detective Joe Friday. The show was titled Dragnet, which refers to the coordinated efforts police use to apprehend criminals or locate suspects of a crime. For example, the phrase, “Be on the lookout,” alerts police to keep an eye out for a particular individual. Another type of dragnet is what fishermen use to catch a great multitude of fish.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a dragnet He said is like the kingdom of heaven. In this case, the dragnet, or fishing net, was cast into the sea by fishermen. When they pulled in their net, they discovered a great catch of every kind of fish. They kept the good fish and discarded the bad when they came ashore. Jesus told His disciples that will be how it is at the end of the age, a time when the angels will separate the good people from the bad, the righteous from the unrighteous, those who accepted Jesus from those who rejected Him.
“So it will be at the end of the age: the angels will come forth and remove the wicked from among the righteous, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Matthew 13:49-50
The analogy Jesus uses is fishermen who cast their net into the ocean’s depths. The fishermen do not separate the good fish from the bad while the net is in the water. They know they will receive a mixed catch of fish they will separate later. What does that mean to us today? When we cast our nets far and wide, which is to say, share the gospel among all peoples, we must do so knowing we will receive a mixed catch, a catch of those who have genuinely given their lives to Christ and those who have not.
When we share the gospel, we have no idea what is truly transpiring in people’s hearts any more than the fishermen in Jesus’s analogy can see what fish are entering their nets. However, in both cases, God knows the good fish from the bad and the righteous people from the unrighteous. Therefore, let us continue to share our faith boldly, without judgment, in love, and let God take care of sorting the catch in His time.
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