Bountiful Harvests. The rickety bus sped down the winding mountain road, past swarthy farmers working terraced rice paddies. It was a scary ride, but I was busy admiring the skill and precision of the reapers as they cut stalks and deftly layered them into wicker baskets strapped to their sides. Cooperating together with military precision, Taiwanese farmers could bring in two or three harvests a year.
When the bus arrived in Taipei City, we piled out onto the street near the officer’s club. Avoiding scantily clad street-walkers, I retrieved my bike and pedaled to Tai Da University to teach English Bible while off-duty from NSA. The Tam Shui River passed by on my right where I had been baptized by an elderly missionary. I stopped to watch duck herders and fishermen reap the fruits of their labor.
When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish the nets began to break. They called to their partners… to come and help them. They came and [together] filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking. (Luke 5: 6-8 NCV)
“There is a great harvest,” he told them, “but only a few are working in it—which means you must pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out more reapers.” (Luke 10: 2, Phillips)
Why Is Our Harvest so Meager? Harvests were plentiful for these Taiwanese laborers because of their team-work, skill and hard work. Jesus calls workers like them to bring in a plentiful harvest. Sadly, fish aren’t jumping into our boats and crops aren’t falling into our baskets. We can’t even get friends and neighbors to listen to our message of God’s forgiving love. Is this their fault, was Jesus wrong or are we missing something?
What Are We Missing?. Our blog, The Horizontal Church, stresses a single theme: yes, we are missing something crucial. Unlike the Taiwanese, modern Christians try to complete Christ’s mission while working at cross-purposes. Unlike the disciples, who teamed up to haul in a great catch, we compete for disciples and quarrel over doctrines.
We applaud those who seek to fulfill the Great Commission, but not for ignoring His command to, “Love one another.” Consider that the call to make disciples is recorded once, while His love command was repeated often.
How is it we can turn our backs on His clear command to love each other, repeated five times in John 13: 34, 35; 15: 12, 19?. Why won’t we support His prayers for unity, offered three times in John 17: 21-22? Where is our response to the Apostle John’s frequent plea to love one another? (1 John 4) Why don’t we imitate the bountiful harvests of the first church by being “in one accord,” as they were?
How can we expect our neighbors to respect our message if they don’t respect us? When they see how estranged we are, why would they recognize us as His true disciples? Can they see Him in us at all, while failing to model the gospel’s love among ourselves? Will we complete the Great Commission while disobeying His Great Command?
O Lord, hear our prayer. Help us to do the work of repentance and rectify our many divisions and quarrels. Forgive us for believing we have to agree on everything in order to be in agreement. Help us to see that empty harvests are the product of our disobedience, not the failure of the fish to get caught.