“Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest.” John 4:35b CEB
It was about an hour and a half drive from our house. Some of the drive was on highways, but the best part was on the backroads. The windows down, we didn’t have air conditioning then, and the wind blowing through the car. We passed farms and farmhouses. We drove through little towns with quaint, older storefronts. There were many cornfields and acres and acres of land. My favorite part of the ride was when we left the paved roads and hit the gravel roads. This meant we were getting closer and the ride was almost over. We turned off the gravel road onto a very narrow, very steep decline that led to the cottage my family owned. That last turn meant we had arrived. I loved that trip as often as we made it because of the journey. I also loved that trip because it tested my ability to remember where we were going and which turns we would make along the way.
Fast forward many years to when I was in the driver’s seat and my daughters were in the back seat. Almost every trip we made as a family the girls were watching a DVD, playing a game, or later watching something on their iPhone. I’m not saying this was necessarily bad. As a parent it kept them occupied and they didn’t complain about how long the trip was or their boredom levels. There was one fairly unintended side effect of their methodology as passengers. When it was time for them to learn how to drive, they did not know how to get around their own neighborhood and city. They had learned not to pay attention to things going on outside of the car. Instead, they focused on whatever they were doing inside the car. When they earned their driver’s licenses, they had to also learn how to navigate Brandon and Bloomingdale. It took a while, but they now know how to navigate their own neighborhood, town, and even back and forth to college.
I believe church can be like this. I believe there are those who are on the journey with the windows down and their eyes wide open to the world around them. I also believe it is human tendency to look mostly at what we are doing and lose focus of what is going on around us. Unfortunately, when churches do this, we look up one day and don’t recognize where we are. We see that the scenery around us has changed and we’re not sure of our location anymore. The world around us isn’t noticing us because we aren’t noticing them. We lose our ability to navigate the landscape of our own community.
The good news is that in Scripture God apparently knew this would happen. Jesus gives clear advice, if not a command, to his disciples—really all who would listen. His advice is, “Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest.” Jesus knew that his disciples were focused on themselves and Jesus and were not seeing the bigger picture. They were leaning in intently on Jesus, his teaching, miracles, and the way he was with them. Jesus knew that they needed to refocus—back to the mission field, back to the purpose. In Jesus’ own words he declared that he came to seek and save the lost, set captives free, liberate and rescue a world dead in sin. The disciples needed to refocus, open their eyes and notice the fields that were ripe and ready for harvest.
The refocus Jesus was telling his disciples about a harvest of souls. About the world around the disciples that was full of people who needed the Good News. Those who would believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior of their life. We modern day disciples need to heed the words of Jesus. We must open our eyes and notice the communities we live in are full of people who need to hear and receive the Good News. We are the ones who will take the Good News to them. The fields are indeed ripe for the harvest.
Jesus also told his disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers. Will you be a worker? Will you pray for other workers who will help take the Good News to our communities? We must open our eyes and notice. We must pray that God would send workers to help spread the Good News. And if we will do these things—the future is bright. More and more people will come to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Will you open your eyes and notice? Will you join in being on mission together now and for 2019?
This weekend at all four worship services we conclude the message series Make a Difference. We'll see clear examples of how we can make a difference by being on mission together, which is the theme of our giving campaign as we prepare for our 2019 ministry needs. In 2019 we will need to be on mission together to reach more people with the Good News. This weekend we will invite you to turn in your commitment card that you will be on mission together in 2019. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!