Luke 10:2-3 (CEV)
2 He said to them:
A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in. 3 Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves.
Becoming The Answer To Our Own Prayers
Just to jog our memory from yesterday, we have to remember that Jesus is talking in this section to the 72 ordinary folks who’ve been following him around for the past number of months and sending them out as an advance party for his coming visits. These are the folks that Jesus is talking to now.
He starts with this weird thing about a big crop and a few workers, which we traditionally understand to mean that there are lots of people out there who don’t yet know about the Kingdom – who haven’t yet encountered Jesus in ways that have transformed their lives and thoughts and actions and behaviours to be more in line with the way that God made us to live.
These people have lots of potential – the potential to feed a village from a field is huge – but all the while the crop just sits there in the ground it does nothing, and eventually wastes away back into the ground it grew from in the first place. To get access to this abundance, this value, this incredible potential of the crop, the farmer’s going to need people to go out and harvest it. To gather the berries, uproot the carrots, pluck the tomatoes and peppers, snip the herbs, and then bring them all to the farm shop and clean them and sort them and organize them and sell them on to the people of the village. If this process doesn’t take place, than it kind of defeats the purpose of having put the seeds in the ground in the first place, right?
And the same is true, Jesus is saying, with people’s lives. I think he’s being pretty clear that there are all these people out there who are already ready to be transformed and to become part of the transformation story. There are all these people out there who are just waiting for someone to come alongside of them and help them to harvest all of that potential that God has already put inside of them. This isn’t true for everybody (he goes on to make that clear as well) but it is true for many.
So Jesus tells the folks to ask the Lord of the harvest – to pray to God – to send workers out into the fields. It seems a pretty reasonable thing to say. “God, we have a problem. Wondering whether you could help us fix it?” All well and good. Dust off our hands, declare our work done, right?
But here’s the catch. Jesus’ very next words are “Now go …”
There’s no cheating out here.
We don’t get to say, “well, I prayed about it, now it’s up to God, I’m going home to have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.”
I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that it doesn’t work like that in the Kingdom story.
We don’t worship a magic-genie-in-the-lamp kind of God who we just go to with our requests and then sit back and wait for the magic genie to show up and grant our three wishes. This Kingdom story that Jesus brings to us is one of God entering in to earth, and us entering in to the story, and the story entering in to our lives, and our lives and our stories entering in to the next life and the next story and the next life and the next story and transformation being offered over and over and over again to and through the very people who have already experienced that story and transformation themselves.
So Jesus tells the 72 about the problem (they might or might not have even really thought about this before.) He tells them to pray about the problem (we are always going to want God’s involvement in bringing this Kingdom story more fully to light in our world – it will always go better if we don’t try to do this on our own!) But at the end of it all, he then tells them to go, and to become the answer to the very prayers that they’ve been praying.
Jesus doesn’t promise this is going to be easy. He’s completely transparent when he says he’s sending them like lambs into a pack of wolves. This going isn’t simple or risk free in any way.
And yet, he tells them to go.
- How do you think about those who aren’t yet engaged with the Kingdom story? Do you tend to see them with a lens of frustration? Through a lens that thinks little of them, or is afraid of them? Or are you able to see the potential in them?
- What does it look like to nurture a lens that sees the potential in others?
- What does it look like to pray about a problem that we know we are being called to become involved with?
- What changes if we assume that at the end of our prayer we will have responsibilities to be part of the answer to that prayer?