When Heaven Goes Fishing, It High Grades

by Tad Lindley

In times past, the high tide line was littered with the rotting bodies of chum salmon. Fisherman had high graded their catch, and the result was that the better fish were kept, and the less desirable were cast away. The whole business is illegal and against traditional values, but money is involved in commercial fishing and that changes people.

High grading

Let’s say that commercial fishermen are put on a 200 fish limit. They are catching three kinds of fish, kings, chums, and reds. At a good year’s prices, kings are $1.25 per pound, chums, 25 cents, and reds, $1.05. Obviously the fisherman who sells 200 kings will be paid much more than the fisherman who sells 200 chums.

Unfortunately when we cast a net into the sea or the river, we bring up all three kinds of fish. The money minded fisherman will deal this situation by high grading: he will keep fishing, throwing the chums overboard to later wash up on the beach, keeping the first 200 kings and reds to sell to the fish buyer. It makes perfect economic sense, but as stated before, it is illegal, and it goes strongly against Yup’ik values.

Heaven goes fishing

Because Jesus lived in a fishing culture, fishing is often mentioned in the Bible. When he saw Peter and Andrew setting out their net, he said to them, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men”. (Mark 1:17) In Luke 5 after drifting all night and catching nothing, Jesus urged them to try one more drift, and when they did, there were so many fish that the net sank. Then after his resurrection, Jesus called out from the beach as the disciples were fishing and coming up empty, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find”. (John 21:6) When they set the net, again the corks sank, and they were deck loaded.

Heaven will high grade

It would be nice to think that heaven would be above high grading, that everyone would be saved. Today lots of preachers seem to believe this. How many funerals have we been to where the deceased lived like hell, never repented of their sin, never served God, but somehow have been judged by man to be saved? I wish that this was the case that all men would automatically be saved, but heaven is going to high grade.

Speaking to the people, Jesus said, “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. (Matthew 13:47-50 NIV)

Are you a chum?

None of us wants our soul to wash up on the beach of the lake of fire. Here is a quick check to see if you are a spiritual chum. Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I’ve told you in the past and I’m telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 GW) If you are involved in any of these activities when the Lord comes or you die (whichever comes first), you are guaranteed of being high graded.

From a chum to a king

The good news is that if you are involved in a sinful life style, for example, you are living together with someone and unmarried, or you enjoy partying on weekends, Jesus can change you. In fact, that is what his death was on the cross was all about: purchasing our salvation (Acts 20:28). You see, Jesus does not want to high grade anybody. He is patiently waiting, hoping that we will repent of our sin. In the Bible, when people repented of their sins they were baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of those sins (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16).

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27). Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians. 5:17) You might be a chum today, but as a new creature, you can become the kind of fish that Jesus is seeking to catch.

Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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