John 4:35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
There are three images that I feel define Christianity:
1. The Cross
2. The Word of God
3. The Field
We all know that the Cross is the main image of Christianity. It represents the Easter story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures tell us that the Cross is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
The Word of God gives the believer the final authority on spiritual matters. Above all other things, the Word of God defines God’s plan of salvation which is the essence of Christianity.
This image is often lacking in many Christian circles today. It is the place where God sends His people to cultivate, grow, and harvest people for His kingdom. The field is where you will find God’s heart. This field is as close as your family or it can be as far away as a distant land, but the field is where God calls you to be a witness for Him.
All three of these images give us the plan of how God is building His kingdom. You must come to the Cross because there is no other entry point to God than the Cross. You must know God’s Word and how the Holy Spirit shapes us into being a disciple of Christ. Finally, you must find yourself in a field making Christ known.
The field is the world around us. It is where we are called to make Him known. In other words, we are called to be His witness of the Gospel. We hear pastors or missionaries define their work as a ‘calling’ from God to do what they are doing. Pastors usually say, “I was called into the ministry” indicating there was a distinct moment they knew what they were going to do with their life. However, that distinct moment isn’t just for the clergy because the calling is for every believer in Christ … every believer is ‘called’ to the field. That does not mean we get rid of the pew … it only means that the field grows in meaning and significance.
I remember an illustration someone used to describe what happens in many churches as it relates to our calling to the field. The image is a football game, where the huddle is used to outline the plan for the next play in the game. The team huddles and huddles and huddles, but never gets back to the line of scrimmage to execute what they decided in the huddle. This image of always huddling is what happens when the pew takes precedence over the field. The church becomes a safe, endearing place for people to hang out, find friendships, and give to the meaningful services that are conducted. I’m not saying any of that is wrong, but it is not the field. Too often the ‘field’ is not considered a priority, nor is it the end goal of why we go to church. Spiritual growth is about personal achievement to become a better spouse, parent, or citizen in the Kingdom, but usually, it is never framed as becoming proficient in being a ‘field worker.’
Here is what must happen with these three images:
1. All three must play a significant part in our spiritual development. All three must have equal emphasis applied to them by the leaders in the church. Some would say the Cross and the Word of God must play a more significant role than the field because they are more important. I would disagree. The Cross and the Word of God are important in preparing you for the field because the goal of Christianity is to go into all the world. It’s the field that must increase as Jesus asked in the Great Commission.
2. Two verses that are foundational in understanding the nature of Christianity are John 3:16 and Matthew 28:19. These verses should be side by side in forming our vision for Christianity.
To know Him:
• For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
To make Him known:
• Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
His promises build in us the capacity to be able to go and find a ‘field’ to be a witness for Him.
3. We often find ourselves thinking that the church is our field. In some cases, this may be true if ministries start in the church to assist people who are struggling. The church could then be a field, but in most cases, the field is where we work, where we live, and in the relationships we have developed outside of the church.
Jesus was concerned about the lack of workers in the field for the harvest. Remember before the harvest there is the cultivation of the ground to receive the seed before planting. Then there is the care of the field to free it from all weeds that could choke out the crop. Then comes the harvest, and this is what Jesus was concerned about. The workers are needed. Paul said some plant and some water, but we are all important as we work the
Matthew 9 35And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Nothing has changed since Jesus spoke those words. The workers are still needed in the field. How does this change?
We must incorporate ‘the field’ into the DNA of the church. The ‘field’ must be the objective of our discipleship.
1 Corinthians 3 6I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler