You know from where that phrase comes. Jesus in Matthew 9:37 says this: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few …” If you have been a Christian for some time you might have heard that and you know that Jesus is talking about the need for many people to hear the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ … the need for them to know that Jesus is the Saviour of the World and the Lord of the Universe. As a Christian and a pastor, of course I know that too. However, this gives an interestingly new light two weeks ago.
In our small group, we have a family who fled from his home country for fear of persecution because he had became a Christian. John became a Christian after investigating the sacred book of his previous religion and realising that it was not a religion of peace and love. He encountered Jesus Christ through checking out the Bible and realising that He is the answer to everything. Indeed, having someone like him in any Christian group will definitely inspire you to take your faith seriously.
Just two weeks ago, John shared a story about how the previous week he shared the gospel with someone. John worked as a tradesman now in Australia and he happened to work for a person who came from the same country as him. The conversation flew naturally until the person, just like many other people, complained about the difficulty of life. He seized this opportunity by telling something along this line: “Do you have a few minutes? I can tell you what I know about how life actually has a purpose. Do you want me to?” I commend his courage, and it sounds rather simple actually. He asked for the person’s permission, which is very sensible to do. And do you know what he answered? Like many of us, we fear that the answer would be something like: “No way, keep your religion to yourself, you bigot person, and I am not going to be your friend anymore from today onward. I am going to unfriend you in facebook. I am going to hate you. I am going to spread rumour so bad that you cannot even step outside your home. Just you watch. .. you … yeah… you…”
I know … it’s a bit exaggerated. It is a quite unreasonable fear, if you think about it. But that’s our fear, isn’t it? However, to my surprise, the person’s answer was simply, “Yes. Ok.” Then John went on and talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then simply invited him to go to church. Do you know what his reply is to this invitation? Again, our usual fear is that the person will say, “Nah. No way. You are all a bunch of weird people there. I am not going to be associated with you. No way. The world is better off without religion. You and your church friends can go to hell.” Again, exaggeration. But am I right? That’s what we think will happen sometimes.
Again, to my delight, his reply was, “You know what? I have been meaning to go to a church, but I am very shy, and nobody has ever asked me to.” That, friend, just blew my mind.
Now, of course, the journey for him might probably still be long. Or perhaps short, who knows? Perhaps he will become a believer next month, or perhaps next year, or perhaps not at all. Who knows? The point is this: The harvest is indeed plentiful. It is indeed plentiful if only we want to look around. I don’t think that person is the only one out there waiting for someone to come to him to tell him the Gospel and to invite him to a church. Perhaps it is your friend who is doing the group assignment with you. Perhaps it is your colleague who sits next to your desk. Perhaps it is the cashier in the supermarket that you frequent weekly. Or perhaps it is the person sitting next to you right now as you read this in a cafe.
In verse 38 of the same chapter, Jesus continues: “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Are you one of that laborers? Are you the one who is going to seize the opportunity and ask for his or her permission to share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, there might be rejection. But again, there are plenty reasons to rejoice if the response is similar to John’s story above.