Why Humans are no Different than Goldfish

Recently, my youth pastor gave an incredibly insightful message…whether or not there is an actual name to the concept, I refer to it as The Goldfish Metaphor.

Sitting on a folding table in my church parking lot last Tuesday evening were two large, rectangular fish tanks filled with live goldfish. One of the tanks, containing probably 50 fish, was labeled with a piece of paper, “The World.” The second tank, containing around 15 fish, was labeled, “The Church.”

My youth pastor first brought our attention to Mark 1:16-18: “As Jesus walked beside the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.” 

“We are called to go fish,” she explained.  “Jesus died to eliminate the separation between us and God. Jesus’ heart is for people. So it is our duty as Christians to point people to Jesus, to share the good news so that people can experience him, to move those from the ‘world’ tank to the ‘church’ tank. So we’re going to do that right now.”

Rather confused, my youth group watched with wide eyes and gaping mouths as she suddenly pushed the “world” tank onto its side, sweeping gallons of water and dozens of fish out onto the pavement.

“Now you have to save them!” she shouted over the yelps and squeals of her audience.

Immediately, the group of thirty high school students got down on their hands and knees in a desperate attempt to save the floundering fish. One by one, we did our best to scoop them up off the ground and toss them into the “church” tank.

After we’d saved every fish we could, we sat back down, filled with a decent amount of shock.

“That’s what happens in life,” my youth pastor explained. “That is why we have to go out and talk about Jesus. Because without Jesus, when things like that happen, you have no hope. There are people in the world who simply have no hope. So if you’re not ‘fishing’, are you even following Jesus?”


Those goldfish were afraid, confused, helpless. Often times, we, too, are afraid, confused, and helpless. Without a doubt, life will come along and knock over your tank, your life, at one point or another. It certainly has knocked over mine before. And by the grace of God, Jesus kneeled down beside me, scooped me back up, and carefully moved me to where He wanted me to be – where I was supposed to be.

So we aren’t really any different than goldfish, I suppose: as much as we may try, we can’t always see the big picture, and we can’t always fix everything ourselves. We depend on our Savior to put the pieces back together.

However, we also depend on each other to find Him. I certainly did not find God in my own – people came fishing for me.

So now it’s my turn – time to go fishing.


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