Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.” Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” John 4:34-42 MSG
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about soul winning. I’ll honestly admit that for years I felt like a lot of other Christians feel: I didn’t want to shove the gospel down the throats of those who didn’t want it. I’m frankly ashamed to make that confession now, but if I want healing and change to come I have to be willing to first admit that I have a problem and seek the solution. Maybe it’s because my birthday is going to come around again in a few days that I’ve been thinking more about eternity. I wish I could say that it wasn’t for selfish reasons and that instead I’m being quickened by God’s conviction on my soul, but like a lot of Americans, I am selfish and I am often looking for ways to comfort, protect or encourage me. In this search for fulfillment in my own life, I tend to forget that there are others out there living their lives without Jesus and headed for an eternity that is at the very least grim. I’m thankful that God has reminded me lately of their need and my ability to help them first, before myself.
Thing is, I’m not sure I know how to win souls. I’ve been through a couple of soul winning courses before; every Christian gets asked to attend at least one in their journey with the church. Those courses, while they make me more consciously aware of the need to evangelize, leave me cold when it comes to methods and processes by which “they” say I need to accomplish this thing called soul winning. I guess that’s why I like the passage given to us in John’s gospel. Here, John records Jesus’ words, as he shares with us the fact that fields are ripe already…that someone else has done the hard work planting, fertilizing, tilling and making ready the crop. The harvest in this instance is fully ripe and waiting to be plucked from the ground. Jesus suggests that his disciples need only be willing to get out into the field and pick, cut, gather, in order to make the work complete. Sounds easy enough, so why am I still afraid?
I think I know the answer to that question: I’m afraid, because the evil one makes me afraid. My fear comes in several forms: I’m afraid that I won’t say the right words. I’m afraid that the words I do say will not be received well. I’m afraid that a botched attempt will close doors for future discussions. I’m afraid I’ll be asked a question I can’t answer. I’m afraid that this person will speak ill of me to others (that last one comes as a result of years of practice as a people pleaser, another thing I’m working on). I’m afraid that the one I’m witnessing to will reject me. I’m afraid they will laugh at me. I’m afraid they will refuse to hear any more from me. Maybe you are afraid of the same things?
Good meaning people say, “What in the world, why are you so afraid. Don’t you trust Jesus?” Sorry, that doesn’t help.
Of course I trust Jesus. I trust him for my salvation, my life, the life of those I love, the workings of his Spirit, the guidance of his Word, the grace that I see given to me and others all the time. I trust Jesus, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. In fact, courage is the essence of fear overcome by His Spirit. That being the case, fear is not to be a factor in my sharing. I am challenged to rise above the fear and speak. Speak about my experience with Jesus. Speak about how much better my life became once I listened to him and sincerely followed his lead. Speak about the potential for a satisfying life that exists on the road to Emmaus with Him. Speak, and allow the Holy Spirit of God to convict, comfort or conform those who hear my words. Ecclesiastes 11:1 declares, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”
Today, I’m investigating the whole process of soul winning with a new perspective. I’m trying to see it with fresh eyes. I’m looking for ways to make it a regular part of my Christian experience and I’m looking for feedback from all of you who are reading this and have already begun to step into the harvest field. I want to know, are your pant legs white with the ripening heads of grain in the field? Are you sneezing from the pollen flying through the air, because you’re hip deep in that harvest? Are your arms aching from carrying the grain? Do you have a bushel basket with you that’s overflowing with fat, juicy olives? Have you eaten your full of figs and still have more than you can carry in your apron? What does the harvest look like to you? Has it changed your life? Has it brought you joy to sweat with a purpose? Could you ever imagine spending your days in an office, at a desk again? Of course I’m speaking figuratively here? What do you smell, see, taste, hear and touch as you gather for the Lord. I want to know!
This has been a long post and I’m glad you’ve finished it with me. I feel like a new mission is rising in my soul. It’s scary and thrilling, all at the same time. Do you know how I feel? If you do, write me at email@example.com. I want to hear from YOU.