Matthew 9:37-38 (above).
According to the United States Department of Labor, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
We celebrate and tribute this holiday by taking a day off from work. ...Interesting.
Don't get me wrong, I love a well-earned day off as much as the next guy. I slept in and plan to read a book for the majority of the day. Rest is important, and it is encouraged by God Himself. I just think that the irony behind this holiday is not-so-subtle, celebrating work by not working. Furthermore, I believe the way we celebrate this holiday holds a peculiar parallel to the way we sometimes celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ.
Every weekend, we go to a church building to meet with other Christians and lift our hearts in praise to God. We celebrate His goodness and grace towards us. We worship Him and proclaim our devotion to Him. We learn about ourselves, about the world, and about how God's Word applies to our lives. We even share a metaphorical "meal" together and call it "Communion" of all things. It's like a weekly holiday, right?
Then, most of us travel back home and start our work week without ever giving Jesus another intentional thought. According to LifeWay Research, although 80% of Christians claim that they believe they have a "personal responsibility to share my religious beliefs about Jesus Christ with non-Christians," over 60% of us pretty much never share anything at all.
How can this be?! Maybe most of us are celebrating our faith in Christ more like we celebrate Labor Day, and less like the life-altering, eternity-changing, transformative relationship with God that it is.
In Matthew Ch. 9, Jesus sets up an agricultural metaphor to teach His disciples about what it means to truly follow and obey Him. Jesus says, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
This brief address begs the question, "where is the harvest field?" Is the harvest field inside the convenience of our church buildings? Is the harvest field inside the familiarity of our own homes? Is the harvest field neatly fitted inside the boundaries of our social comfort-zones?
No. The answer to these questions is no.
The harvest field is out there. It is outside of our comfort-zones. It is more than likely outside of the convenience of our church buildings. It is very likely outside the familiarity of our own homes. Jesus commands his disciples to "GO" (see the Great Commission in Matthew 28), not to stay.
The next question that this address begs to ask is, "am I a laborer?" Who are the laborers that Jesus is referring to? Are they just those crazy friends who may have "taken their faith too seriously" and left the country for a distant land to share Christ? Are they just the pastors, preachers, ministers of our local churches that teach each weekend? Are they just the folks who do social/nonprofit work for a living?
We are the laborers that Jesus is talking to. You are the laborer. I am the laborer. He says that only a few of us will take his call seriously and start planting seeds and reaping a harvest in the fields of the world around us. But, he also says to pray for more laborers to be sent out. That means there is still hope for those of us who may not quite understand the weight of the responsibility that our Lord and Savior has given to us.
As you celebrate your day off on this holiday, I pray that you will consider the words of Jesus Christ. "The harvest is plentiful." There are human beings, brothers and sisters, friends and coworkers, acquaintances and strangers, that we will interact with every single day this week and every week. The vast majority of them have no relationship with Jesus. As Jesus-followers, we have a responsibility to share the hope we have found and reap an abundant harvest for the Kingdom of God.
So, ask yourself today. Are you a laborer?
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director @ IDES