He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you….”
Years ago, my friend Chuck Klein shared a parable from his life story in a short film called The Harvest. As a boy, Chuck grew up on the family farm in North Dakota, and one summer his father suddenly, unexpectedly passed away. He and his brothers, young as they were, tried to keep the farm running in preparation for the coming wheat harvest. The hot, dry summer days brought the harvest sooner than expected, and they would never be able to complete the task. Then, one quiet morning, they heard the rumbling in the distance. Over the horizon, combine after combine came driving down the dirt road toward their home. Farmers all around showed up to help, combing through field after field until the work was done. Together, they did in one day what no one could have done alone. They brought in the whole harvest. Everyone had a part in helping with the harvest. The harvest is something that can bring people together.
Chuck’s parable reminds me of Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17.
“As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world… My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:18, 20-21
Jesus’ prayer here focused on three things.
- WE HAVE BEEN SENT INTO THE WORLD
Jesus has modeled for us what it means to live a “sent” life. The “sent” life is less about the where and more about the why. Living with purpose. Living on mission. Every moment, every encounter, every relationship provides an opportunity for us to bring Jesus into our world. The harvest is so great, it requires our full focus. The joy of the harvest before us compels enthusiastic sacrifice within us.
- WE HAVE BEEN CALLED TO BE ONE
Jesus has modeled the oneness required of us to experience harvest fruitfulness. We must be willing to leave our egos and logos at the door, laboring side by side in the harvest with no concern for who gets the credit. The harvest is so great, no one ministry can bring it in by themselves. How foolish and counterproductive when we’re more concerned about building our brand or advancing our agenda than we are about the magnitude of the harvest.
- WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A MESSAGE
Jesus IS our message. We point people to Jesus. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Believes in what? Jesus made it clear. “Believe in me.” The gospel message unites us because it puts our focus squarely on Jesus. The gospel message unites us because it aligns our mission. The gospel message unites us because its urgency compels us to act.
Jesus’ prayer provides a potent combination for effective harvest work!
Two weeks ago, our Sonlife team came to Orlando for a leadership retreat and then participated in the Youth Pastor Summit put on by Student Leadership University, where almost 2,000 youth workers gathered to be encouraged and sharpened for the task of laboring together in the great harvest. Last week, I was in Ephesus for meetings with Concentric, a group of like-minded global ministries committed to working together to see disciple-making movements expand to 153 countries by 2033. Next week, I’ll be in Denver for Dare 2 Share’s Gospel Advancing Summit together with ministry leaders committed to working together to realize a God-sized harvest among the next generation. And then, the week after that, I’ll be in Baltimore for the annual Youth Ministry Executive Council meetings convened by the National Network of Youth Ministries. There, we strategize together with denominational leaders and leaders from other youth ministry organizations like YFC, FCA, YWAM, Young Life, Word Of Life, D2S and CRU on how to reach every middle school and high school student in America with the message of the gospel and disciple students to reach their peers with that message.
With each of these gatherings, I see leaders who know what it means to be sent, are committed to working together and reflecting the oneness that Jesus prayed for, and so believe in the message and the mission that they are willing to sacrifice all for the sake of the harvest.
Chuck Klein’s The Harvest ends with this reminder.
“Now, I see the lesson of the harvest. There is another field. It’s God’s field, filled with people who are ready to respond to Him. And just as my family prayed for God to send somebody to come and help bring in the harvest, people from all around the world are praying that someone would come help them bring in the harvest in their land, their city, on their campus. Everywhere I look, I see people who are lost without the love and message of Jesus Christ, and the urgency that we felt on our farm is the same urgency that exists today. We can all do something. We can pray, give, reach out to a friend, even go to another land. This could be the greatest spiritual harvest time in history, and that’s why we are all needed. It’s time to come together. It’s harvest time!”
What an honor to labor side by side with you, supporting you in the great harvest work God has called you to. As you stare at the ripening harvest in your backyard, perhaps deeply burdened, maybe sometimes overwhelmed, know that we’re loading up the combines and coming your way with help for the harvest.
This post originally appeared at Together for the Harvest – Sonlife
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