The Cloister, The Harvest, and Where the Laborers Are (Part 3)
In the West, we have an interesting problem. The Church is cloistered. But because of that cloistering we believe no one wants to hear the Gospel. The opposite is true. The harvest is great, but the workers are few. And that sets up an interesting problem.
Jesus’ answer to a great harvest and a shortage of laborers is simple and yet very different than ours. We start Bible colleges, seminaries, training programs and apprenticeships. Jesus starts with the Father.
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
So Jesus’ first response is to pray. We look for strategies, but God is looking for people to pray. The raising up of laborers is a divine act that requires us to go to God in prayer. Have you been doing this? What does your prayer life look like in regards to God raising up laborers? I would suggest this is a good litmus test for how connected you are to God’s heart for the lost.
Now, a lot of people are familiar with this verse and some people actually practice it. This isn’t just Jesus’ being impractical. He expected God to answer and He did. But how?
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave to them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness…Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
-Matthew 10:1, 5-8
Did you catch that? God answers the prayers of the disciples by raising up laborers among the very people Jesus told to pray. The people who prayed for laborers became the laborers themselves!
We can’t miss either of these two ideas. For the believer who sees a need for laborers, we need to spend time asking the Father to raise up laborers for the harvest. God is the source of true laborers for the Kingdom and if we ask Him for them in faith, He will give them. But the other idea is equally as important: If we pray for God to raise up laborers for the harvest, we shouldn’t be surprised if we ourselves are some of the very people that God raises up as a laborer.
This idea is crucial. So many people see the need for laborers, see the situation of the harvest, and may even pray. But few are willing to step out and be the very thing that they’ve been asking God for.
But we’re going to need more than just you in the harvest field, we’ll need others as well. God will raise up laborers from the church in much the same way as He did with the disciples. But one of the places we significantly underestimate finding laborers is among the lost.
Why the lost? Well, as we make disciples of lost men and women, we should be teaching them that they have a responsibility to make disciples as well. The teaching and modeling of this responsibility cannot be underestimated. New believers who are amazed about their new relationship with Jesus are often the best at convincing unbelievers that Jesus is real, and often are better at it and more motivated than long term Christians. As a ministry that I know of is fond of saying “The resources for the harvest are found in the harvest.” God has actually stored up laborers for the harvest in the harvest field. We should expect this and teach this as a normal thing, and quickly we will find the number of laborers dramatically increasing.
Friends, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Have you prayed to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest field? Are you prepared not just to pray that prayer, but also to be an answer to that prayer?