Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Full Harvest of Christ

           The feast of Tabernacles celebrated the maturing and harvesting of the whole crop (Lev. 23:39).  Often, the idea of harvest is associated with evangelism, “reaping” souls for the kingdom of God.  But evangelism is probably more like scattering seed and conversion like seed sprouting. No one harvests seeds or sprouts.  Only mature plants bearing grain or fruit are harvested.
            In the parable of the sower, seed is scattered over all kinds of soil.  What distinguishes the good soil is that it produces a crop of 30, 60, or 100-fold (Matt. 13:23).  Jesus taught that many people receive the word and are converted for a time.  But seeds and sprouts only fulfill their purpose if they produce fruit worth harvesting.  Additionally, fruit from individuals is welcome but does not constitute a full harvest.  Ephesians 4:13 gives us a sense of the harvest God is looking for: “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”  It is the whole measure of the fullness of Christ in His body that the Feast of Tabernacles foreshadows.  This is the harvest God desires. 
            Ephesians 4 also describes how we grow into the full harvest of Christ.  It starts with holding to each other, keeping the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph. 4:11, 16).  As we hold to each other, we function in the measure of grace apportioned to us (Eph. 4:7).  Grace is given to each of us so that we can pass it on to those around us.  For some of us, this means moving in the ministries Paul mentions—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Eph. 4:11).  But we shouldn’t limit the manifestation of God’s grace to five ministries, as if Paul is giving a definitive list.[1]  Leaders and ministers are important but we will by no means attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ if only leaders contribute.  We can only grow and build ourselves up in love “as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16).  That means every member of the church has grace from God that is vital to the growth of the church.  In this vein, Paul gave the Corinthians the following guidance about their services: “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  Everything must be done so that the church may be built up” (1 Cor. 14: 26).  Whatever your specific role in the body of Christ, it is divinely important.  Be encouraged that you are deeply needed!

[1] In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul gives a slightly different list.  This suggests he is just giving examples of ministries.


patrick73 said...

Good stuff brother. I really miss our morning fellowship at Starbucks.

Teague said...

Thanks Patrick. We definitely miss you at Starbucks as well!