Jesus and the Outdoors
I am a fisherman. I love the outdoors. I’m also a writer. Most importantly though, I am a Christian. That is my community and family. Everything else I do falls under being a Christian.
I’m still learning about a lot of what God has called me to do and about the Gospel and scripture and a lot of other things. Luckily a lot of the things I learned from fishing and the outdoors cross over into being a Christian. To me Jesus was an outdoorsman too.
Maybe your idea of Jesus is someone who would be wearing a 3-piece suit today, or some kind of hippie in sandals. To the early Celt’s who converted he was a mighty warrior who even conquered death. The Gospel of Matthew “I do not bring peace but a sword to divide it by” was probably a popular Gospel amongst them.
To me though Jesus is an outdoorsman who liked fishing, camping, and hiking. He even did some sailing and rowing. I know these things. I understand them, and it has made it easier for me to understand his message. It also makes it easy for people like me to start conversations about Jesus when I’m fishing with people who aren’t.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Mathew 4:19
That’s what Jesus told the apostles when he encountered them and ended up with 4 fishermen as apostles. They already knew how to catch things that didn’t want to be caught. Like people who are stuck in their ways and don’t want to hear the call.
I myself am a fisherman and a lot of the things I learned as a fisherman have helped me understand some of the gospel. I’m not a preacher or Gospel teacher. I’m still learning and have a long way to go but there is definitely a similarity in fishing and being a Christian.
It’s also a great way to start a conversation about being a Christian to people who aren't yet. Whether they know it or not they have a lot of faith and talk to God more than most people probably do. We are never guaranteed to catch anything, and anybody who has been fishing knows this.
So, taking from that to there is someone other than us i charge isn’t that great of leap. Once the conversation is opened then it gets easier to move it towards the bigger things. Having common ground on something that Jesus had already built on is a great place to bring others into the light.
God has a plan, even for us fishermen. He can use all our gifts for his Glory. Plus, fishing is a great activity by itself. You might even get a great meal or two out of it. Jesus fed thousands from a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. Sometimes the easiest way to connect people to Jesus is with the basics. Like fishing.
Jesus’ connection to the outdoors doesn’t end with fishing though. He did a lot more outside than he did inside.
Back then there were no cars and the only people who had horses were wealthy. Jesus and his disciples are not known for their vast amounts of worldly money. So, the usual method of transportation for them was good old fashioned foot power. They walked all over the place to deliver the message.
Unlike now the roads they usually traveled weren't exactly interstates. Most were not even paved. Some Roman roads might have been pretty good, but for the most part they walked paths to get from town to town. These paths usually went through what would be considered now as wilderness areas. To them it was just outside of town.
When you leave the safety of civilization and walk on paths in the wilderness it’s called HIKING. It is nowadays anyway.
That’s right Jesus was also a Hiker.
This is, of course, a modern term for the activity. In Jesus’ time, it was just how you got from here to there. It was also a lot healthier way to travel, for them and the world we live in.
Our modern world fueled by fossil fuels is not the most thought-out plan. That’s all I have to say about that.
If you have never hiked before maybe, it’s time you looked into it. It’s one of the cheapest and healthiest ways to enjoy the outdoors. All you need are shoes and a desire to go. No expensive gear, no special training, no tech to do it for you. All you really need to know is how to walk.
It’s also a great way to see the world the way it is supposed to be. Natural, in balance, working on God’s plan and not ours. Which happens to be another great conversation starter about being a Christian.
Since Jesus and his followers spent a lot of time traveling between towns trying to spread the message they spent a lot of nights in the wilderness. Plus a lot of the people back then were shepherds. They stayed out with the flocks of sheep in fields and wherever else the sheep needed to go.
They had tents that were easy to put up and take down and packed easy for traveling. They sat around fires and cooked their food. They told stories. They laughed, they ate, they shared, they connected. Today we call this camping.
Sleeping out under the stars, making smores, telling stories are all the same things Jesus and the disciples did when they were spreading the word. Except for the smore part, that’s a modern addition to camping. But it’s still a good thing to do when you camp.
I love camping. Even the stars look brighter when you get away from civilization. The air is cleaner. You sleep better. You get to live, even for a little while, in the world the way God wanted it to be.
Simple, Beautiful, stress free, amazing, and the list could go on forever with all positive things to say about camping.
To Jesus and the people back then it was just the way things were. Progress isn’t always a good thing. Modern cities are horrible places. It’s one of the most illogical things people have ever done. Luckily, we still have the outdoors to get away to.
While you’re there it’s a great time to invite someone to learn about our savior. The door is already open if you let them know this is how things are supposed to be in life and that there is a way to get back to it.
I am a fisherman and lover of the outdoors. I feel at home in the wild places as much as I do in my little office at home on my computer writing. I would prefer it if I could spend more time there and less here. Maybe one day that will be part of God’s plan for me. I try to do what he tells me to when he tells me too. He called me to write and stick with the things I know about the outdoors.
Part of bringing people into the light and out of the darkness involves us being involved with them. If we can’t bring them straight to Jesus, we can get them interested with a few simple conversations in the outdoors.
All we have to do is get them to start thinking about a better way and the battle is halfway over. Eventually they can make the leap from fishing and a little talking about Jesus and his life to becoming full-fledged members of the family and going to a good church and having fellowship.
Maybe God called you to work with people who wear suits. Maybe he called you to work with athletes, or musicians, or whatever background you had. I can’t speak for anybody else. I don’t know how to talk to a lot of people and I’m still learning about starting conversations about Jesus.
We all have the same goal. Freeing people from damnation and helping them attain salvation. We don’t all have the same role in that calling but we all have the same boss. Jesus.
It’s a big world, with a multitude of different types of people in it. All of whom can be saved. All of whom need to be saved. It takes a lot of faith to walk the path we are on, it will take even more if we ever complete our task. I’m praying we do,and won’t stop till I leave this world for a better one. Pray for all of us, and pray for all of them.
And also learn to fish and appreciate the outdoors. Jesus stayed out there too.