Yesterday, I looked at the end of the story of the woman at the well in a part I believe is often overlooked by many. Yesterday and today will not be directly tied together, but they are side by side in Scripture and so it may benefit you to read yesterday’s blog if you have not yet [click here]. Following Jesus’s statement that his food is to do the will of God, or that it is the natural nourishment for his soul, Jesus goes into a discussion on agriculture regarding harvesting, sowing, and reaping (John 4:35-8). Yet even weirder than this tangent it seems Jesus is going down, he says that the ones who sow and those who reap do so together.
We are partnering in the kingdom, not competing.
We rejoice together with other believers for kingdom advancement because we are all on the same team.
At times, I struggle to understand agricultural metaphors because I have grown up in the north Houston area my whole life. However, some time in Abilene and Palestine have helped educate me a bit on agriculture so I am going to help this make a bit more sense.
When you are farming, there are some steps to take. If I were to buy a farm and let it grow naturally, but I hope to grow corn, I am going to be disappointed when crop season comes, and random vegetation is growing in my field. I must go out and sow corn seeds throughout my field if I hope to grow corn. Then I must actively tend to my field the best I can to make sure it is getting all the nutrients it needs to grow, and hope that it received proper sun, rain, and soil nutrients. Finally, once the corn is grown, the corn must be reaped and collected. Sowing the seeds is a job simple enough for one or two people, but often times reaping your harvest involved others as the corn has grown bigger than the little seeds you just had to toss out as you sowed.
This is a partnership between those sowing and those reaping to the reward of the harvest together. They rejoice together as the partnership was successful and they have corn to eat, sell, trade, or whatever else they choose to do with it. So what does this mean for faith?
Sowing is spreading the word of God. It is sharing Christ with those around us. It is living in his will where it becomes such a natural part of our lives, we do not think about it because it just happens. We get the opportunity to partner with Jesus in the sowing of seeds to those who are around us.
Then is the scary part. Many of you know the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. There are many parts of the sowing process which are out of our hands. This parable tells us there are many types of soil which the seeds may fall on. There is also the fact that we can return to try to aid growth, but ultimately God is who makes these seeds of faith grow. Yet, God promises that the seeds which land on good fertile soil will return with a miraculous hundredfold growth.
Following this season of growth that is truly out of our hands, others will get to partner with the Lord in the reaping process. Is this not just the glamorous part of harvesting? The one who reaps spiritually sees the increased number in baptisms and membership, etc. The get to help cultivate those seeds that were previously sowed in evangelism and move into the process of discipleship – more like a pruning process.
But sowing is not nearly as glamorous.
The one who is called to sow often never sees the return of their efforts. This is often times the hardest part about working with teens because we spend so much time sowing and trying to help water this faith, yet often do not see the return of investment.
Jesus says for those sowing and reaping to rejoice together.
The truth is some of us are called to partner with Christ to sow, while others will get to reap. Neither one is more important than the other, however, as you cannot reap without having first sowed seeds and sowing seeds without reaping your harvest will ultimately lead to the harvest rotting.
As Jesus tells his disciples, the harvest they are entering into to reap, they did not labor in sowing those seeds. They are partnering with those who previously sowed alongside God.
We must realize that as the body of Christ we are not in a competition for church growth, but we are partnering for kingdom advancement.
Growing up at Woodsedge Community Church, one of the most incredible things I have ever heard was shared week after week. As they welcomed guests and visitors, they would share their hope for these people to join. Yet, if these people did not feel Woodsedge was the place for them, they promise you to help you find a church home where you feel you can plug in. It is not a competition for your body in a seat on Sunday mornings or your tithes in a bucket, but a partnership to spread Jesus to the ends of the earth.
So maybe you have been called to sow and it is frustrating. I get it. I promise. Jesus understands too, and that is why he says for the sower and the reaper to rejoice together. This is part of the will of God which Jesus spoke about in John 4:34. His will is for us to partner with him in sowing and reaping the Word of God to a world in desperate need of a savior. It is a natural nourishment to our soul and the answer to those around us.