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Posted: July 29, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Scharf: You are workers for Christ

Last week, we saw Jesus tell us to pray for workers to go tell people about their salvation, to go help those who were headed for hell. And we saw why. It’s because God loves us…and them. But then something strange happened, we realized that when we prayed the prayer Jesus asked us to pray, to send workers into the harvest field, God answered it. You, the one reading this, you are that worker you just prayed for.

Now, I know that may sound crazy. The natural reaction is for all the excuses to start flowing: "I don’t know enough." "I’m not good enough." "I don’t have any experience." "Jesus was talking about other people, people not like me, when he was talking about doing the work of harvesting souls for his kingdom." Right?

But stop and think for a minute. The disciples that Jesus sent out could have made all the same excuses. Look at their resumés. Experience? None. What they knew they learned from Jesus in that short time they’d been following him. Not one single class on preaching or teaching methodology, no "outreach training" manuals or even hospital calls. Sure, they had observed Jesus, but they hadn’t done the work. If there were ever a group that should have raised their hands and said "No" to this call, this bunch of fishermen, commoners, and even a tax collector was it. But notice, Jesus didn’t call them as they were. Look at how Jesus equips those he calls.

Matthew 10:1: "He called his 12 disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness." He gave them power. Then he gives them very clear instructions. Go to a specific area and preach the kingdom of God — proclaim the gospel — the good news of a Savior. The miracles would be a testimony and sign that this was coming from God himself. It wasn’t their experience or skill that would draw the people. It was God’s power. Jesus equipped them, so they went.

That’s what he does at church, too, isn’t it? He sends you workers equipped with the power of God’s word and sacraments to reach out, to reach your heart and change it. He sends volunteers equipped with excitement and energetic faith running the programs and classes to help reach out to others. He sends leaders that make their promises of faithfulness to God’s word and the work of their congregations — serving made powerful by Jesus’ forgiveness and promising faithfulness to their work — to our work —strength that only God can give. But is that enough? Will this handful of people be able to do all the harvesting this year? No, Jesus told you to pray for workers too. And when you do, he sends you. And God has powerfully equipped you for that task.

What else do the last words of this section mean? Matthew 10:8: "Freely you have received, freely give." Literally it is, "A gift you have received, a gift give!" You have received the forgiveness and love of Jesus. You have been filled by his compassion, which means that you are constantly being refilled with his compassion when you get in his word and gather with your fellow believers, being filled to overflowing so that you are happy and eager to give that same forgiveness and comfort to others.

You are workers for Christ. Oh, I know — there are a ton of objections. I make them too. You say, "Well I’m not a pastor." I say, "Isn’t there someone better situated than me to reach this person?" You say, "I’m so busy with work and life." I say the same thing. It’s still ignoring all compassion.

Jesus is not going to sell us short as he sends us out. He will equip you. He promises. Try it. You are a worker for Christ.

The same Lord that has given you everything for eternal life will also equip you with everything you need to bring eternal life to others through your work. You are workers for Christ — in your home, at the office, in the family and in the outreach opportunities here at church.

Workers for Christ. You prayed for it. He answered.

 

Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.

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