by Dan Jones
I recently ran low on reading material and came across a copy of the book Purple Fish by Pastor Mark O. Wilson.
It’s about Jesus and fishing, which means it could have just as easily been titled “Hey, Dan Jones, You Should Read This Book.”
More specifically, the book is about how to share Jesus, which is something I have long thought I don’t do very well at all in person.
Yes, I can write about Jesus, but there is something about doing it face-to-face that’s much more difficult.
Early in the book, Wilson describes a failed evangelism attempt that wonderfully illustrates how we’ve been doing it wrong.
As a youth, he was on a bicycle mission trip in Ohio when he came across a man whose car was stalled by the side of the road.
The hood was up and the man was bent over the engine. Wilson pedaled up and said, “Hey mister, I have something important to ask you.”
“The irritated man turned toward me, holding a wrench in his greasy hand.”
“If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell?”
Wilson recounts the man told him exactly where to go-- and it wasn’t heaven.
There are many chapters that recount stories like this, and each one brings us a little closer to honestly shining the light of Jesus.
When I got to Chapter 22, I found a section called “Start With Hurting” that really made an excellent point:
“God’s purple fish--those he treasures most--are lost, broken, and hurting people. That includes everybody you meet. When we engage in spiritual conversation with the lost, broken, hurting people, it’s best to start with hurting.
If you start with lost, then your job is to set them straight. That means you know something and they don’t. In other words, you assume you’re smart and they’re stupid.
If you start with broken, then your job is to fix them. The unspoken message is that broken things are problems, less valuable, and may be beyond repair.
But when you start with hurting, your job is to bring healing.
People resent those who try to fix them or make them feel stupid but respect those who bring a healing presence. That’s what Jesus did. He started with healing, and then moved from there to straighten and repair. The healing came first.”
That’s wonderful advice.
We are called to start with love. We are told that if we don’t have love, we are nothing but clanging gongs or noisy cymbals. So when we address the hurting first, we put love first.
The book goes on from there, giving examples and ideas on how to help people who are hurting deeply.
The book reads easily and quickly, but is also worthy of careful study. I think it would lend itself well to group study in your church.
I give it five spinnerbaits.
"But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27 NIV