The Dirty Work of Jesus
No matter how we cut it, evangelism and missions require hard work. This central work of the Great Commission requires sacrifice and labor. It requires getting involved in the dirty work, like Jesus. This is likely a major contributing factor as to why so few Christians seem to involve themselves in it.
The Great Commission requires going, evangelizing, teaching, and discipling. None of it happens on its own. Sometimes we labor in bringing in the harvest. Other times we labor to cultivate and sow the Gospel. It's hard whether we are harvesting or sowing, because both, by nature, are truly laborious. They require getting dirty, using your hands, perseverance, discipline, blood, sweat, and tears. At times they require heartache.
I once spent a day with an Italian farmer in Friuli, Italy. We harvested grapes that would be used to make white wine. I was thrilled to be part of this authentic real Italian experience. Wine is a huge part of the Italian culture! They drink wine at almost every meal. You go in the piazza any day of the week before lunch or dinner and what do you see? You see people gathering together with friends for a drink, an aperitif. It's a big part of the culture and lifestyle.
My grape harvest turned out to be a life-changing experience. To my surprise, I learned that even the harvest is tremendously laborious. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. My hands were sore and cut. There was nothing glorious about cutting grapes off of vines and dropping them into 5-gallon buckets which were then dropped into the front of a backhoe to be taken away with a tractor.
As I lay in bed later that night and let my body rest, I reflected.
Harvesting is labor. Sowing is labor. Both are parts of the Great Commission work that we are all called to be part of. Missions work involves both sowing and reaping. Usually, we just want the harvest, but we always forget that to have a harvest there must first come a season of work: cultivating, sowing, watering, and caring for the crops.
The Question We Must Ask
Are we rejoicing to be part of the process?
Are we understanding the great privilege God has given us to be instruments in His hand to bring the Gospel to others and others to Jesus Christ?
No matter what role we play, it is a great privilege and honor to be part of the Kingdom of God! Harvesting is crucial, but so is sowing and working the ground. They go hand-in-hand.
The Great Commission Involves Labor
The beauty of the Gospel is that we get to be part of it because Jesus labored on our behalf. He lived perfectly in our place and fulfilled the law of God. He died the death that we deserve, laboring to breathe while nailed to the cross. He rose again and now He's reigning and ruling, actively laboring, as His kingdom grows day in and day out, century after century, all around the world.
The servant of the Lord counts this labor to be a joy. He/she remembers daily how the Lord labored on our behalf, for our salvation. A lifetime of labor unto the Lord would never be enough to truly show thanks to Jesus for all he has done, and for who He is.
Let me share with you this quote from Richard Phillips, who wrote the great book, Jesus the Evangelist. He said,
"Serving the gospel is always hard work, and so it was for Jesus. Such was His care for others that He wearied Himself bringing the Gospel to them."
In this section of the book, the author demonstrates how Jesus was wearied when interacting with the Samaritan woman at the well. He was in need of refreshment. He was in need of a drink. Why? Because He was laboring for the sake of others to preach and proclaim the Word of God and the Good News of the Kingdom.
May the Lord help us all to do likewise. May the Lord be pleased to bless our labor to the glory of His name.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. -- Lk 14:27
Written by Jesse Schreck | founder, director, and missionary with Practical Missions Cohort
Adapted from the PMc video, For Him we could never labor enough