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11 May 2018

Short-staffed for the big harvest.

Pray for more workers. We’re short.

Matthew 9.35-38 • Luke 10.2

I’ve ranted quite often, and written regularly, about the fact the majority of Christians aren’t religious. We believe in Jesus and expect him to save us, but following him is another deal altogether: We don’t. We figure we don’t have to; that because we’re not saved by good deeds, there’s no point in doing any. Even though there’s so very much for us to do—so very much God wants to include us in—we sit things out, figuring God can do it himself, or even expects to do it himself. Meanwhile he’s waiting for his people to obey, and getting really annoyed at us that we don’t. And so the stuff doesn’t get done.

’Twas ever thus. Jesus knew from experience. When he ministered to the people of the Galilee, that’s what he found. People who needed to be ministered to, but who never had been, because the Pharisees had the bad habit of only taking care of those they deemed worthy, or only tending to their own. Which which meant they didn’t venture outside their narrow communities to help the truly needy. That’s why Jesus kept running into so many people who were demonized: If the Pharisees had done their job, had been compassionate like their LORD, the locals wouldn’t have been turning to witch-doctors to get cured—and the witch-doctors wouldn’t have been able to put all those critters in ’em.

Fact is, the people didn’t know God cared. They didn’t know God loved them, and wanted to make them his people. They were lost, scared, confused, looking for hope, and didn’t know where to find it. Same as people today.

Jesus went out and found them, and found them everywhere. And even though he’s Jesus, empowered by the unlimited resources of the Holy Spirit, it’s still too big a job for only one man. He said as much to his students.

Matthew 9.35-38 KWL
35 Jesus went round all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, curing every disease and illness.
36 Seeing the crowds, Jesus had compassion for them:
They were mistreated and thrown away, like sheep which had no pastor.
37 Jesus told his students, “The harvest is truly great—and so few workers!
38 So beg the Master of the harvest, so he can send workers into his harvest.”

Jesus later repeated this when he sent out his 72 apostles to do some of this work:

Luke 10.2 KWL
Jesus told them, “The harvest is truly great—and so few workers!
So beg the Master of the harvest, so he can send workers into his harvest.”

Because if people aren’t gonna get off their butts on their own and do their part, the Holy Spirit is gonna have to light a fire under us and get us off our butts. So we have to pray: “God, bring us more workers!” We always need more, because there’s no shortage of lost and needy people.

Those who know they have need, and those who don’t.

And notice when Jesus instructed his students to pray, he didn’t tell ’em to pray for the needy people. He told them to pray for workers. He didn’t say, “Pray for the lost,” but pray for those who consider themselves found. His primary concern is that the masses need saving, but the concern he expressed to his students is his followers, the ones who should be a light to the world, Mt 5.14 aren’t doing our job.

It’s a valid concern, ’cause we’re not doing our job. Four-fifths of us are happy to leave this work to the “professionals,” the people who get paid to minister, or who spend an awful lot of time raising money so they can afford to minister. Too many Christians figure the pros were called to minister, but God has no such expectations on the laymen. The idea that God pours out his Spirit on everyone so that we’d prophesy and minister, Ac 2.17-18 or that intends to make his people a nation of priests: They either don’t know that one, or imagine it only applies to the Jews or the End Times. They didn’t sign up for any such thing. They only wanna go to heaven.

To some degree, certain evangelists have been no help. They’ve been telling people, “Come to Jesus, and he’ll forgive your sins and let you go to heaven—no strings attached.” Which is entirely false. There are hundreds of strings attached. Jesus intends to turn us into entirely new and different people. He has plans for us and expectations on us. There’s work to do. Fruit to grow. Neighbors to love. Enemies to love. You wanna go to heaven? He has to get us ready for heaven, and that process is gonna take a lifetime.

The non-Christians, the lost, the people who have no relationship with God and really want one: They know they have some changes to make in their lives. Incorrectly, many of ’em figure these changes need to be made before they can come to Jesus. We Christians know better, that God’s grace covers all that—but just as incorrectly, many of us figure these changes don’t need to be made now that we’re saved. We figure we’re good. We don’t realize we are, as Jesus put it, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Rv 3.17

The first step to straightening out, to stop being a lukewarm Christian, is to start ministering. Start obeying Jesus. Start doing what he’s called us to do, rather than basking in the fact we’ve been added to his kingdom. Start tapping the Holy Spirit’s power to minister to others, instead of using it to feel good and spiritual.

There are loads of people out there. They don’t know where to go, what to do, how to make contact with God. They’re sheep without a pastor. Be their pastors. Point ’em to Jesus.

And pray for more Christians to wake up and pitch in. There’s so much to harvest!