Every single person has at least one thing that they are immensely interested in.
When I was a boy, I was fascinated by space science. In fact, I wanted to be an astronomer and spend all of my time making amazing discoveries about the cosmos. I recall when I first learned about NGC 6240, a galaxy merger that has not one, not two, but THREE supermassive black holes (that is, each one has about 90 million times more mass than our sun). Two of these black holes are spiraling around and toward each other, and scientists aren’t entirely sure what’s going to happen when they eventually meet.
When I first heard about NGC 6240, I was blown away! I had no idea that things like that could even exist in the universe. But when I did hear about it, I wanted to tell everyone!
Side note: When I first heard about this galactic phenomenon about ten years ago, there were only two black holes discovered. I just learned about the third when I searched for the above picture.
So what about you? Have you ever seen or learned something that you couldn’t wait to tell others about? What was it, and why did you want to share it?
Even with such an elementary knowledge of things like galaxies, we are easily able to share information that we are passionate about. But sometimes with things that we are maybe a little less passionate or knowledgeable about, we falter.
Have you ever felt like you were unqualified to do something you were asked to do?
What about your faith? Do you feel confident that you could easily have a conversation with a friend about your faith? Would you just be able to manage? Or would you not even know where to begin?
What do you think qualifies someone to talk about their faith publicly? What do you need to know to speak about it confidently?
Even though our faith is sort of big and covers like 4,000-or-so years of human history, I think there are some really basic things that our faith actually hinges on. The good thing is, they all center on Jesus. I know you probably have some really big questions about your faith and what we believe— and that’s completely okay! In fact, that’s a major reason for why we have pastors for all ages: to help people figure out what and why we believe the things we do.
Here’s some more good news: Despite how much stuff is in our faith, you don’t need to understand it all.
You don’t need to fully and completely understand how God could create the world in one week.
You don’t need to be able to totally explain miracles, even though they do happen.
All you need to be able to do is point others toward Jesus: his life, his death, and his resurrection.
And speaking of Jesus, what was so compelling about him that the people we read about in history and in our modern culture just had to tell others about Him?
Have you ever talked about Jesus with any of your friends? What were some things you learned? How did the conversation go?
You probably didn’t know this at the time, but if you’ve had a conversation with anyone about Jesus, you were participating in what Jesus calls harvest work.
Let’s check out this passage from Matthew 9:35-38:
“Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.””
Jesus uses a metaphor to say something important to His disciples — what is He saying?
Harvest is the time of the year when farmers go into the fields to collect their crops. They keep the good produce and they discard the undeveloped or rotten crops. However, farmers don’t do this alone. They usually have hired hands who come along for the season to help make sure everything runs smoothly and on time. After all, if the crops aren’t collected at the right time, they will either be under-ripe or starting to spoil.
Jesus says that the people of the world are like a harvest— crops that are ready to be collected. But without workers, the harvest can’t happen as smoothly or quickly. So Jesus tells his disciples— tells us— to ask God to send more workers into the field.
Every follower of Jesus has a responsibility to participate in the harvest of Matthew 9. We are all workers. We can and should share the gift of Jesus with everyone.
Now, I know that can seem intimidating, so let me offer some pointers.
First, don’t force it. You have the Spirit of Jesus in you. If you ask him, he will help you make those conversations happen. But when you force things, they usually don’t go very well. So don’t force it. Pray for the people you want to be able to talk to, and let God do his thing to open their hearts and bring that conversation about in His time. Just remain open and ready to talk when the time comes.
Second, focus on Jesus. If you’re not sure what to say, talk about his teachings, or his miracles, or his birth, life, death, and resurrection. If you’re not sure you know any of that, there are 4 books in the Bible that deal exclusively with the things that Jesus said and did (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). Jesus is the center of our faith. He’s the reason we believe what we do. So start with him.
Pro Tip: Mark is the shortest of the Gospels at just 16 chapters AND his story moves really quickly from one moment to the next in Jesus’ life and ministry.
Finally, it’s okay to admit you might not know something. Again, this is partly why pastors are around and available: to help you gain more understanding about your faith. So if you have a friend who pushes back and asks you something you aren’t sure about the answer to, just tell them up-front that you’re not sure, but you’d be glad to find out. Then reach out to your pastor and other church staff! We’re always happy to help point you in the right direction, especially if you’re “working in God’s field.”
So as you set out to do harvest work, here are a couple of questions to help with the application of this Advent lesson: