Summary: A challange to look at the harvest through the eyes of Jesus.
The Barna Research Group has been involved in gathering and analyzing information concerning the church since 1984. Many of their findings are startling and eye-opening. They have found that 33% of Americans are unchurched; they have no church affiliation whatsoever. While it found that 20% of those who have church membership believe that living a good life will gain them a place in heaven. Given those two statistics alone, that tells us that 53% of Americans are lost and on their way to hell. Over half of everyone you run into is lost. And it is a growing population. More and more each year are added to this category. And if we were to throw all the false professors that do go to church into the mix it would probably be near 75%, which is the percentage Jesus referred to in the parable of the soils.
That is why Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous.” There are people to reach; there is a work to be done. And the danger of the church of 2001 is that we don’t see this as the most important work. Most everything else comes before this work, of reaching these with the Word of God.
Jesus finds himself in a similar situation. And I always find it interesting what he has to say about the subject because everything he says is truth. So concerning this idea of harvest there are four lines of thought that seem apparent from the text.
I. May We See The Pity Of The Harvest!
Notice he saw the multitudes. He did not focus just on the disciples or his inner circle of friends but he looked out and saw the multitude. And he was moved with compassion. That word pity means to be moved to love, mercy and pity. In other words, he did not see them but he saw their need. They fainted and were scattered abroad just like sheep without a shepherd. He saw that they would soon run out of pasture and starve and that they would get lost and caught in some thicket and die. And in the meantime they were helpless. The pleasures will run out, the good times will run out, the self-sufficiency will run out, their health will fail, death is inevitable and judgment is sure.
Do we see people like that? And do we pity them? Do we feel compassion for them? That is our need, to feel compassion because of their need. Jesus saw the multitude and was moved with compassion for them. May we do likewise.
II. May We See The Potential Of The Harvest!
Jesus says that harvest is truly plenteous. Jesus saw the potential. Jesus did not focus on the hopelessness of the situation but he focused on hope. Jesus did not pity and do nothing but he said get the sickle and harvest them. Jesus did not see them as always being in that situation but he saw them being transformed into a different sphere. He saw the lost being saved. He saw sinners becoming saints. He saw the guilty being set free. He saw the unforgiven being forgiven. He saw the hell deserving getting grace. Instead of moaning and groaning about the bad state of affairs he magnified the expectancy and hopefulness that is anticipated in the harvest.
Do we see those around us as potential saints? We see so much waxing worse and worse, that we never see the potential in the world. But where there is a lost soul and where grace still reigns supreme, there is hope and there is a potential saint. No matter how “good” or how “bad” they are there is potential. Let’s not let the past seasons of fruitfulness cause us to not see the hope in this harvest. What a harvest, over half of America, over half of Pickens county available to harvest. What an opportunity! May we see the potential.
III. May We See The Problem Of The Harvest!
The problem of lack of harvest is not in the harvest itself, the harvest is plenteous. The problem of the lack of harvest is not in God, he still saves. The problem is “”but the laborers are few.” The problem is not many are interested and involved in gathering the harvest. The play on words is obvious. Plenteous, or large and few or small. Do you know why reapers are few? Because it involves labor. Jesus does not say witnesses are few, but he says laborers are few. Reaping a harvest among sinners is hard work. It will cost some effort and some time. It is not easy work. You have to roll up your sleeves, you have to sweat a little, and you have to get dirty. And few are willing to do that. So we do things that would attract them. Maybe we can do some things and they will come to us. Have you ever planted a garden and then one morning all the beans in that garden had jumped off the vines and were pilled up on you porch? Have you ever planed a garden and one morning all the corn had fallen off the stalk and had walked up and piled itself on your porch? The harvest does not come on its own, it must be reaped and there lies the problem. We are too wrapped up in ourselves to be concerned about anyone else. And while churches all over America sit and do nothing, the potential harvest rots in the field.