Wednesday, September 24, 2014

growing crops

1 Corinthians 3

 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn't talk to you as I would to spiritual people.

I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life.

2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren't ready for anything stronger.

     And you still aren't ready,

     3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature.

You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other.

     Doesn't that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature?

     Aren't you living like people of the world?

4 When one of you says, "I am a follower of Paul," and another says, "I follow Apollos," aren't you acting just like people of the world?

5 After all, who is Apollos?

     Who is Paul?

We are only God's servants through whom you believed the Good News.

Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.

6 I planted the seed in your hearts,

    and Apollos watered it,

but it was God who made it grow.

7 It's not important who does the planting,

     or who does the watering.

What's important is that God makes the seed grow.

8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose.

And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

(A little back story here... Apollos was a very strong evangelist / speaker / leader in the early days of Christianity. Paul was probably one of the defining personalities in the early church. Some folks were being divisive by saying that everyone should follow the things Apollos said, while others said the same thing about Paul. Paul wanted to put a stop to this, because he wantedpeople to follow God - he & Apollos were just the messengers.)

I grew up on a farm, so I know a little bit about growing crops.

Soil preparation is a TREMENDOUSLY important facet of growing crops. If the soil is not tilled right, or if not enough fertilizer is applied, the seeds planted just won't have a good enough basis in which to grow.

Someone has to come along & plant the seeds - & trust me, if the seeds are planted the way they should be, the crops aren't gonna grow right.

Then there's taking care of the crop while it grows. Someone needs to come along & chop out the weeds that grow in with the crop. Someone needs to keep the soil the right consistency so the crop will have the best situation to send down roots & grow vibrantly. And someone needs to make sure the crops have enough water at the right times.

Then there's the harvesting - going out there & getting the fully grown crop when it's life cycle has be completed.

Soil prep, tilling, & fertilizing takes a big chunk of time in the growing season.

Weeding, fluffing, & generally taking care of the crop during the growing season takes the biggest amount of time & effort.

And harvesting is the reward for all that hard work, and may be the shortest investment of time of the process.

For some reason, in our efforts to get people to be Christ followers (called for lack of a better word, evangelism) we seem far more focused on the  harvesting in that process rather than the preparation & caregiving.

It's like if we aren't harvesting we're not really doing much - if we're not getting people to decide to follow Jesus, we're just kind of missing the mark.

But let's think about our own story for a second...

I don't know about you, but there were a lot of people who influenced me in the early "soil prep" days of my life - when I was starting to turn my heart toward Jesus.

And there were even more people who came along & continued to pour into me, helping me to grow in my interest in becoming a Christ follower.

And then there were the ones who helped me walk from the room called "unbelief" into the room called "faith & trusting in Jesus".

We tend to think that where it's at is in that last stage - getting people to commit.

But that was just a VERY short stage, & never would have happened if the previous ones hadn't been done with care.

FAR MORE people expended energy in getting me ready to follow Jesus than those who walked me into actually deciding to believe.

In our connecting with people, we are each just a cog in the wheel, just a part of the process. We are called to influence people to follow Jesus at whatever point they may be in the process.

If we just focus our attention on walking people through committing themselves to following Jesus, making it the highest & seemingly only important facet of the process, we will waste our efforts & influence.

Because, like in growing crops, the end result (deciding to follow Jesus) is just a tiny part of the overarching process of getting people to believe in Jesus.

Do you understand what I'm trying to say here? I hope all that made sense...

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