The Pastor's Pen
As I drive back and forth from our short-term home in Richvale, I pass through acres and acres of rice fields. For weeks I have watched these rice plants grow and develop. I see them reflect the glow of the sunlight in the morning and watch the shadows fall upon them in the evening. These full fields hold promise of a fruitful crop, much to the delight of the farmers, for whom this time of year brings rejoicing. I also rejoice as I gaze at these fields because in them I see the grace of God displayed in the bounteous yields to come. Indeed, the harvest is ready.
As we get to know the area, we are spending a lot of time in the car driving and learning the lay of the land. As we drive around the streets and hills of Oroville, we go in and out of a lot of neighborhoods. And we see a different type of harvest unfolding before us. Here is a man sitting alone on a street bench. There I see a woman holding a child’s hand and bringing her to school. Over there is a group of youth gathered in a park and playing a game. In the drive-through I see a group of people buying coffee, checking their phones, and preparing for a new day. And cars are never lacking in the casino parking lot. As I observe all of these things, I ask myself the question, “Do I see the harvest? And am I ready to enter the harvest?”
In John 4:34, Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” For Jesus, the most important thing in his life was to be about the Father’s business. Nothing, not even the desire for food, could satisfy like obeying the Father and doing His will. He continued in the next verse by saying, “Do you not say, ‘There are four months, and then the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are ripe for harvest.” Like those in the time of Jesus, we are tempted to put off being in the harvest until there is a more convenient time to do so. Yet Jesus reminds us that, though we have many obligations to tend to in order to take care of ourselves and our families, we must not neglect the great responsibility we have to tend to the needs of the harvest.
We are called to be a people who share with others what it is that we have received from and learned about the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be about the business of evangelism. The simplest definition of evangelism that I have ever heard is this: one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. There may be more to evangelism than this simple definition, but there is certainly not less. If Jesus is the Bread of Life, then we, as redeemed spiritual beggars, need to let other famished souls know where they can find the Bread that alone satisfies the deepest hunger of the human soul.
So what are we to do? How are we to engage our friends, neighbors, and co-workers with the truths of the Gospel? At this point my thoughts turn to Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” From this passage we learn the idea and importance of salt. S-A-L-T. As we learn to be “salt,” we can be more fruitful, more obedient, and more productive in our conversations with others as we seek to tell them about Jesus.
‘S’ stands for seeking. We are to seek to talk to others about Jesus. We are already commanded to tell others about Him, but I wonder how often we actually seek opportunities to do so. Perhaps you can begin each day with this simple prayer: “Lord, lead me today to someone who needs to hear about you.” And then expect God to lead you and to provide occasions to do so all throughout the day. I believe that He will answer that prayer in a positive way; He will bring people to you with whom you can talk about Jesus.
‘A’ stands for asking. People like to talk about themselves. So as you encounter people, use questions as a part of your daily conversations. It might be in the form of a simple greeting. It might be asking about the activities of their day. It might be inquiring about their needs or asking how we can pray for them. As we get people talking about themselves, we may find that they may also be ready to listen to us and to what we have to say. I’ve heard it said that if you want to be seen as interesting, you must first learn to be interested. So ask away as you meet others, even asking if they have discovered the meaning of life.
‘L’ stands for listening. Listen to what people are saying once you ask them questions. Look them in the eyes, observe their body language, listen to the tone of their voice, and perceive what they are actually saying. The whole tone and tenor of the conversation may have them verbally saying one thing, but nonverbally saying something else. Listening is an important key to building relationships. Listening communicates friendship, interest, concern, even love to others. Listening provides the opportunity for the other person to open his/her heart to what is really going on inside. More than just about any other activity we do, listening communicates dignity to another person. It says, “You have worth, and you are worth listening to.”
‘T’ stands for telling. Once you have given others an opportunity to talk, your turn will come. You can now tell them His story through your own story. You can tell them what Jesus has done for you. You can tell them about a God who cares, who loves, and who answers prayer. You can tell them how your life has changed and how they also can come and find the Bread of Life and enter into a life that will never end. Each person you meet needs to repent and believe the Gospel. You have the opportunity to tell them that. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom. 10:14-15).
I encourage you to reflect about these 4 things. As I think of S-A-L-T, I am convinced that these are things that each one of us can do. Seek. Ask. Listen. Tell. The harvest is ready. Are we?