The Kingdom Harvest Machine

April 2019
Jeremiah Krieger
 
Matthew 28:19-20, “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
A few days ago, I had a discussion with a sister in Christ and her husband about the focus of the church. Should the focus of the church be internally focused or externally focused? Should we focus on discipleship (internal) or evangelism (external)?
 
It is an interesting question to think about, but when we remember the commission given by Jesus to the disciples, we will discover that our orientation is actually dual. The life of the believer and the focus of the church is both internal and external.
 
Last summer, my youngest son, William, and I had the opportunity to ride with Justin Clayton during the corn harvest. It was quite the experience as we watched the machine take up corn stalks, rip away the fodder, and save the kernels of corn. William was mesmerized by the machine.
 
I can’t help but think that the work of a combine harvester is a marvelous picture of the work of the church. The command of Jesus is to “go” and “make disciples.” The church is missional in its going, much like a custom harvester is missional in the fields. The aim is to gather the harvest. The aim of the church is to evangelize and make disciples.
 
Jesus speaks of the harvest when he commanded his disciples to pray for harvest workers. It is God’s desire to have a great harvest (Mt. 9:38). The command is given in second person plural form, which means that Jesus was looking at the entire group of disciples and not just one person. Instead of being isolated as a single individual, the harvest is to be done as a team.
 
Second, the Apostle Paul makes clear the aim of the church. The aim of the church is to do good works (Eph. 2:10), serve, and achieve spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:12-13). Just like a farmer works his machine for the sake of the harvest, so also should the church work together for the sake of the harvest. However, before that can happen, the operators need to learn to operate. That is what we call discipleship. Discipleship is the process of teaching new converts how to become harvesters.
 
The commands in Matthew 28:12-20 are in second person plural. That means evangelism and discipleship are to be accomplished in the context of a team called the church. First Baptist Church is a local expression of the body of Christ in Holyoke, Colorado. When believers join this fellowship, we become part of a team. There is a place where everyone can fit in. We have several “works” for discipleship, where we can be built up and learn about our faith— in the same way the farmer learns about his equipment in order to operate it.
 
When we are discipled through participating in church services, Bible studies and discipleship groups, God changes our character and we learn our purpose. We learn how we fit into the church and become a cog in the Kingdom harvest machine.
 
That means there are two questions we need to consider. First, we need to ask, “What am I doing to be built up (i.e. how am I growing in Christ)?” Daily devotions are as essential as daily meals. Participating in small groups or bible studies are also opportunities to be built up. This needs to be a regular part of our life in the Church– something that we are willing to sacrifice time for and in which we participate.
 
Second, we need to ask, “What am I doing to build up others (i.e. how do I serve and share Christ with others)?” Often times we can get stuck learning about Jesus without actually sharing him with others. We need a healthy diet, but the diet is for the sake of exertion of the body. The same thing is true spiritually.
 
Learning about Jesus without sharing him with others through service and evangelism is like a farmer who has learned how to grow crops but never plants or harvests. It is like a fishing club that talks about fishing but never goes fishing.
 
When was the last time you shared Christ with someone? Who is in your life that you may have occasional or regular contact with who doesn’t know Jesus? Would you please pray about how God might use you to serve that person? Consider inviting them to Church. Consider sharing the Gospel with them. Share your burden for that person (or those persons) with people in your bible study, prayer group or discipleship group.
 
The Church is Christ’s Kingdom harvest machine. Let’s work together to build each other up and reach others who God loves but are yet still far from Him. God bless you all.
 
In Christ,
 
Pastor Jeremiah