The First Step in Discipleship: Evangelism
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
– Matthew 9:36-38
The last thing that Jesus did before ascending to heaven was that he gave the church its mission to make disciples. The mission that Jesus gave to his disciples was to go and make disciples, he left it as the primary mission of the church. If the mission of the church is to make disciples then it should be clear that the doorway to the mission is to share the gospel. This is a divine mission that every Bible believing, God honoring church should be engaged in and the absence of that mission is sin.
So often we get focused on platitudes in the church. My thing, their thing, anything but the thing that God tells us to go after. In the passage above Jesus emphatically, urgently, and clearly stated that we need to be praying to God to send us out into his harvest.
Let’s break that down quickly. Not a Bible study on how to have compassion, not a breakdown on what it means that the crowd was harassed and helpless, but Jesus calls us to pray with passion. Not another study on the lost, not what the lost need from Christians or the church, what the lost don’t get needs to be thrown out the door and the church needs to come to this one precise point, a call to earnestly, passionately pray.
What I find even more astonishing than the call to pray is that the harvest is ready. Jesus tells us to pray so that he will send out laborers into the harvest. Prayer gives us compassion, prayer opens our eyes to the needs of the lost, prayer moves the hands of God all the while changing the condition of my heart towards the lost. Jesus didn’t say fields so that we can go plow or seed, Jesus said harvest. What my soul so often needs to come back to is this statement from Dr. Jerry Falwell, “Nothing of eternal significance happens apart from prayer.” Things happen when I take Jesus at his word to call on him for the lost, that he would send me out into the harvest so that I would labor with him.
I have at various times in my walk with the Lord been fired up about sharing the gospel, and at others not even a smoldering coal. What I have realized that when I fail to join, which I have, I fail to see the impact that it has on my life. I fail to see the miracle of rebirth, someone being redeemed from the wrath that would be poured out on them because of their sin. I fail to see God at work. Seeing someone come to an end of themselves, and saved by the grace of Jesus Christ does wonders for my personal view of Jesus, it simply stirs me. Something just happens in my soul that cannot be explained when I am a part of a life being impacted by the gospel.
I want to also mention that when I fail to join in with God in to labor in his harvest I hinder the beauty of God’s hand at work to those around me. As a husband, father, friend, pastor and all the other titles that I possess, those around me need to see the hand of God at work in my life. It stirs their faith, encourages their soul, and magnifies Jesus Christ to them. God at work in you displays the glory of God through you to others.
Let us join Jesus as he calls us to pray earnestly to God for the lost. Let us passionately go after the lost by crying out to him, regularly for those who need salvation so that we can fulfill the call of Jesus to make disciples. Let us make a list and clear a spot for our knees so that we may see the lost saved, the saved matured, and the matured multiplied.