Several weeks ago, our family went blueberry picking. We have never done this before, so we had no idea what to expect. When we showed up, we each got a gallon bucket and were given some basic instructions on how to pick blueberries. We found out that you don’t pick them one at a time, instead, you tickle the blueberry clusters with your fingers, and the ripe ones fall into the bucket while the others stay on the bush. That’s important, because blueberries don’t ripen unless they’re on the bush.
The price was right - $3.75 per pound – which is a bargain compared to what you find in most grocery stores. So, we went after it, each with our own bucket, and each with a mission to pick as many blueberries as we could. We all had our own unique strategy. The taller ones could reach the higher branches, and the shorter ones could reach the lower ones. Some stayed on the perimeter of the bush while others squeezed between the branches. Some went to the end of the aisle, while others started at the beginning. Some worked in pairs, while others worked by themselves. That afternoon we experienced some of the highs and lows of blueberry picking. We enjoyed being outdoors as a family. We were refreshed by a quick afternoon rain. And we were surprised by the painful discovery of a yellow jacket’s nest that resulted in several stings to three of our kids.
All in all, we realized that blueberry picking isn’t too difficult, and after an hour, we were sure we had enough blueberries to last us for a few days. Come to find out, our combined efforts in that hour amounted to 20 pounds of blueberries, and a $75 price tag. 😊 Needless to say, we’ve been enjoying our fair share of blueberry foods these past few weeks (blueberry crisp, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry smoothies, blueberry donuts, blueberry crepes, blueberry waffles, etc.).
Imagine if the body of Christ, scattered all over all over the world, had the same strategy for the gospel harvest as our family did with our blueberry picking; namely, that everyone, regardless of their age or background, got busy tending the vine? What if everyone at Maranatha (myself included) took the gospel mandate seriously? What kind of harvest might we experience?
I know that is a frightening suggestion . . . and probably seems a little unreasonable. After all, not everyone has the gift of evangelism or has been trained in Evangelism Explosion. Not everyone has a Bible degree or knows the answers to some of those tricky theological questions. What if they were to ask something that I didn’t have the answer to? What if my presentation of the gospel actually made them confused? And what if they don’t want to be my friend anymore? Not to mention, I’m not allowed to share the gospel at work, OR I don’t really have any unsaved friends, OR I’m super busy with my family and I don’t really have time to invest in my community. There’s only so much a person can do, right?
Whatever the reason, we can all agree that VINE work is HARD, but consider these truths.
1. Every child of God is commanded to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20)
2. Every child of God is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and empowered for Christian ministry.
3. Every child of God has a personal testimony; a story of how God forgave their sin and led them to faith in Jesus.
4. Every child of God has been encouraged to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2).
5. Every child of God can place their confidence in the “gospel of Christ” which is the “power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
6. Every child of God must realize that salvation is a work of God, not a work of man!
What’s required to be a vine worker?
The story of the demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39 has always amazed me. Here is a guy who has been literally “out of his mind” for years. Luke says that he had been demon-possessed for “a long time” – maybe his entire adult life? His situation was so out of control that the townspeople had to drive him out of the city. They tried to place him under guard, but he would break his chains and shackles as if they were nothing. He had lived in the desert for a time, but now he was living among the tombs. When Jesus arrived on the scene, this poor man wasn’t wearing any clothes – a clear indication of his spiritual bankruptcy. But instead of avoiding the man, Jesus showed compassion and delivered him from his demonic oppression. Immediately, he was “clothed and in his right mind” (Luke 9:35) and eager to follow the Lord. That’s when the story takes an unusual turn. Up to this point, Jesus has been telling his listeners - “Follow me” - but now he tells this man, “return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39).
If there was anyone LEAST qualified to be a VINE-worker (i.e. disciple-maker, gospel worker), it was this newly-converted, previously crazy, demon-liberated outcast. YET, that is exactly who Jesus commissions for service in this Gentile region beyond the Jordan river. His qualifications rested solely on his experience with Jesus, his personal testimony, and his willing heart. That’s all he needed! He was now ready to preach the kingdom in a place where Jesus was forbidden. You see, the townsfolk weren’t happy about the miracle, and they demanded that Jesus leave. But this newly-converted Jesus follower could now accomplish what Jesus couldn’t, remain and proclaim the message of the kingdom!
Shown up by an 11-year-old!
I was challenged the other day by my 11-year-old daughter. She was describing a conversation she had earlier in the day with an 8-year-old girl in the park. This girl had just lost her daddy. He died from a battle with cancer a few months ago. In this conversation, my daughter began with creation, moved to God’s faithfulness to the children of Israel, and shared the saving message of Jesus. She talked about sin, forgiveness, and the grace of God that invites us into a personal relationship with Christ. They discussed eternity, reincarnation, eternal security, Christian fellowship, and spiritual maturity. Of course, they didn’t use those terms, but the content of their conversation included those topics. It was a park-day- gospel-dialogue that MAGNIFIED the Spirit’s PRESENCE and the GOSPEL’S POWER! It was VINE work (disciple-making) from one of Maranatha’s least experienced laborers.
I am constantly challenged by my children - their consistent boldness to share their faith, and their nightly prayers for the unreached people of Azerbaijan continue to prod their daddy’s heart.
If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are a VINE-worker!
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are qualified to share the gospel!
If you are follower of Jesus, you can EXPERIENCE the Spirit’s presence and the gospel’s power!
Are you ready to enter the harvest?