As urban christians, the context of Jesus' ministry is often lost on us, particularly when confronted with sayings which reflect an agrarian background. Jesus often describes ministry in agricultural terms: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few..." Any farmer (and fruit-picker) knows that there are seasons of high demand, when every hand is called to action to ensure that none of the fruit is lost.
Jesus' reflection applied to the ministry of the church in reaching the lost, who "are like sheep without a shepherd". Although the metaphor is mixed, the emphasis in the application is on bringing in the fruit of the kingdom.
But where do
we begin? An overwhelming challenge is before us (in one sense) to reach
this community with the good news. How do we start?
The next clause is instructive... "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field" (Matt 9:35 - Luke 10:2) The first response is to be one of prayer!
Now the activists amongst us might object that we spend too much time praying and not enough time doing what God wants us to do - to demonstrate His love. But this passage indicates that the first thing God wants us to do is..... PRAY! As Paul indicates: we battle not against flesh and blood...
Too often our ministry is hindered from lack of prayer. Our ability to sow and reap is constrained by a dry prayer life. Our ability to fight the battles is reduced because we are not using the equipment that God has given, nor the methods that God has ordained.
in prayer. People are reached through prayer. Doors are opened through
prayer. Lives are won in prayer. Let us wrestle with, and listen to God,
that we might do His work, His way.
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