Backyard Church
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Backyard Church

The Harvest is Already Here!

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

(John 4:35, NIV)

Church leaders often speak of the “harvest.” Loosely translated, it’s seen as a moment in history that ushers the throngs of the unsaved into salvation, and therefore into heaven. Under this mindset, it is a time that has not yet happened. It is something to attain. Churches hold conferences, prayer summits, and congregational fasts to usher in the moment of great harvest.

Although this is an important desire, Jesus stated plainly that the harvest already was around us. All we needed to do was to open our eyes to see it. I believe that to open our eyes to Jesus’ statement is to understand the very nature of the term. Returning the term “harvest” to its simple roots, what do we discover?

The “harvest” is the moment that what originally was seeded is finally utilized for its intended potential.

A farmer sows seed with an end in mind. He does not sow to watch stalks grow. He plants his seed specifically for the moment of future harvest. It is what is on his mind from the minute he plants, and it dominates his thoughts through all the work necessary to see his seed grow full and strong. Harvest is the moment that his intent for the seed is realized, or “harvested,” and subsequently utilized.

Stepping back into the scripture above, if Jesus’ harvest metaphor was talking about people, then when were we, as people, first “seeded?” It was the moment of your birth. Biblically, when God refers to man’s birthing substance (I’m being discrete) He refers to it as his “seed.”

The very word in Greek for seed is “Sperma.” It’s where we get the English term “sperm.”

Despite what you may have been programmed to believe, your life is no accident. It was not just the genetic luck of your two parents. God, in His infinite wisdom and intention, knew you and “seeded” you on this planet:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” (Jer. 1:5a, NIV)

Through the harvest metaphor, we now see that each of us was seeded for a purpose. Harvest is not just about salvation; it’s about divine purpose and intent. Remember, it is the moment that a seed is utilized for its intended potential. We can then create a new definition for spiritual harvest.

Spiritual harvest would be the moment that a person (which God first seeded) is recognized for his or her God-given potential, and his or her God-ordained traits, talents, and abilities begin to be cultivated and utilized for the glory of God.

Each one of us has been blessed with God-given talents, ideas, personality traits, and even idiosyncrasies having been placed there by God to be harvested and used for His glory and His workmanship. There are things that you alone are uniquely equipped to do, and God “implanted” these things inside you to be uncovered and cultivated. Salvation is the gateway, but it is not the moment of harvest. Harvest occurs when you begin moving in your God-specific and intended potential. All your passions, desires, and traits collide, and in everything you do you start feeling His wind beneath your wings, all for His glory and recognition.

This creates a huge paradigm shift in the role of those in spiritual leadership. It certainly is not to have a large congregation. It is not to fill positions in the children’s ministry, the choir, or the hospitality staff. It is about getting down and dirty, just like a farmer, and unearthing the intent of the lives of those God has placed under your care. It is to find each person’s “God-purpose,” and to encourage and empower them to walk in it. And you can use every arsenal at your disposal to do it, be it prayer, worship, teaching, study, and even financial provision.

But more believers are stepping away from the church, without abdicating their roles or their faith. As a Christian, it is your blessed opportunity to see those around you through the same mindset: to lovingly peer into the lives of others and discover, unlock, and propel the very reason God seeded them here as well.

Personally, it might be a vocational change or the pursuit of a dream that just won’t seem to go away. It could be a call to the ministry or the mission field. It might be a shift from being an accountant to becoming a schoolteacher if that is the specific role God has ordained for you to reveal His light to the world. It could be the recognition that everything about you — yes, even your idiosyncrasies — has been designed by God to be utilized for a purpose.

Imagine a city of Christians who have discovered and are operating in their “God-purposes,” people who have unlocked the very reasons they were born and are selflessly helping others do the same. Imagine a community of people who have been harvested and are helping to increase that harvest. What impact would that have on the rest of the community? On the rest of the world?

The harvest is already here. The harvest might be sitting in the office cubicle next to you, living next door, or working out on the Stair Master beside you. Salvation is the entrance. After all, God’s initial intent is for the salvation of all. Through this new understanding of the harvest, we discover it may be just the beginning.

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