Wednesday Word: Fishing for Phishes

There's a long history of how fishing is tied to the Gospel story. Depending on which story you read, fishermen were the first four people Jesus called to be his disciples. There are several stories about Jesus being with his disciples while they were fishing. In one of them, Jesus tells the fishermen to let down their nets on the other side of the boat (as if fish new the difference between one side or the other) and they ended up catching many fish. And Jesus tells Simon, “From now on you will fish for people.”

The pastor of the Methodist church across the street from us in Montana was (and is) fisherman. He uses fishing stories and the gospel like I use football. And the only time I ever wanted to be a Methodist was on the Third Sunday of Easter in Year C when the assigned Gospel came from John and Jesus is cooking fish for the disciples. Pastor Ben would designated this as Communion Sunday and he would use fish he caught and smoked for the event.

We are in the fishing business, so to speak. We are charged by Jesus to go out and fish for people, bringing them into the net of the kingdom. This is about where this analogy breaks down though, because, unlike fishermen, we don't kill the fish we've caught. Instead, we work to nurture them as disciples. So maybe we participate more in the “catch and release” variety of fishing rather than the “catch and keep.” That is, we catch, nurture, feed, and grow the fish so they can become fishers of people themselves.

But this world has a way of taking something good and misusing it, turning it from its intended purpose to sinful purposes. And that has happened with fishing.

Fishing has been hijacked to become phishing. Instead of fishing for people to become disciples, phishing has become a new way to scam people. The idea behind phishing is to cast as wide a net as possible, usually with a “oh poor pitiful me” or a “poor pitiful person in need” story in an attempt to get people to bite and steal their money.

Some of you received an e-mail from “me” a few weeks ago asking for some kind of emergency assistance. Thankfully enough of you questioned that request, brought it to my attention, and I was able to get word out about the scam. You may have received an e-mail from “Bishop Sutton” requesting assistance in the form of purchasing gift cards. As a matter of fact, I received one of those e-mails myself while in a clergy meeting with the Bishop this past Monday.

Be wary of anyone asking for financial help via e-mail or other virtual formats (a player in Words with Friends tried to pull the “I need gift cards” scam on me recently).

"Again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad" -- Matt. 13:47-48.

We are in the business of fishing.  Honest fishing will yield good results; dishonest phishing; however, will result in the bad phish being thrown out.  Know the difference.



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