By Francis Frangipane
It is amazing how Jesus stayed riveted upon His life’s goals. We never read of Jesus being distracted by the turbulent conditions of the world around Him. Indeed, reaching and saving the lost was always the vivid center of His focus.
I think some of us imagine life in first century Israel was considerably more serene than conditions in our world. In some respects, the times may have been simpler, yet the world of the Messiah was anything but calm. Israel, you’ll remember, was an occupied territory. Nationalistic Jews, known as Zealots, were continually either plotting, stirring or launching insurrections against Rome. Israel was, in fact, a brutal and fearful place and violence always simmered beneath the surface.
In addition to the societal upheaval caused by the Zealots, most of Israel’s religious leaders were proud, self-satisfied people who had “seated themselves in the chair of Moses” (Matthew 23:2). Under the pretext of “defending the faith,” they twisted Christ’s doctrine and slandered His character. Christ’s ministry was constantly being undermined by their malicious lies.
Thus, the ministry of Jesus Christ emerged in a world made turbulent by fierce, nationalistic zeal and false religious priorities. Political needs were urgent, yet Jesus did not become a politician (John 6:15). Jewish, nationalistic fervor was uncompromising, yet Jesus mustered no militia (John 18:36). Injustice was rampant, however Jesus refused to settle earthly disputes (Luke 12:13-14). Instead, He treated these major needs of His times as though they were incidental issues. He focused on one thing: loving the lost.
Looking past the conflicts, issues and horrors of His times, Jesus directed His disciples to fix their eyes upon the most important issue. He said, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest” (John 4:35).
A disciple of Christ must forever look beyond the urgent need of one’s times in order to stay focused on the greatest priority: winning the lost. Beloved, let us look steadfastly into the heart of God, for His heart is ablaze for the lost. As disciples, we must “lift up [our] eyes” beyond the fears and sideshows of life and see what God is looking at: “the fields . . . are white for harvest.”
Balance and Focus
If you know me, you know I passionately believe we need to elect godly politicians; we need righteous judges in our land. I believe we need Christians in government – in all places of leadership, really. I am fighting for the rule and influence of God to infiltrate our national leaders. Yet, my primary vision is to attain Christlikeness – and nothing so embodies the nature of Jesus than His quest to redeem the lost.
So, while I encourage men and women to run for office, it is not merely a political move, it is evangelistic: God desires to model in them Christlike leadership, that through them souls might be rescued! Even as we fight and pray on behalf of the unborn and children, I am ever mindful that the greatest weapon I have is to convert the opposition. You see, transformed hearts transform laws. I am after the heart of Christ, and He is after the salvation of man.
The goal is souls, and our weapon is Christ’s desire to save and transform sinners.
Jesus said the harvest was not only plentiful, it was ripe. A number of people who were outwardly avowed enemies of God are, even now, inwardly being invaded by grace. My wife recently read a book by Anne Rice called Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt. Previous books by Rice were mainly demonic ventures about vampires and witches. They reeked of darkness. Yet someone was praying for Anne Rice. As a result, irresistible grace began to undermine her arguments against God. Her testimony, which she presents at the back of Out of Egypt, reveals her personal exodus from darkness to behold the glory of God in Christ.
With God, not only are all things possible, but no one is impossible.
So, Jesus said that, in spite of the wars and persecution of His times, the harvest would be massive. Let us ask ourselves, Are we looking at the conflicts of our times or have we heard Christ and lifted our eyes to see the harvest? Indeed, the very best thing we can actually do in light of worldwide conflict is for each of us to win our neighbors to Christ.
Beloved, in spite of the apparent darkness of our world, the times are always right to reach the lost. True, “one sows while another reaps” (John 4:37). Our role may be prayer, not evangelism. But let us be faithful, then, in prayer. For no one is saved who was not first lifted to God in prayer.
How to Pray
In a world rattled by distractions, Jesus gave a succinct focus in prayer. He said,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).
God has already raised up people in businesses, in government, in neighborhoods, in every nation and subculture on earth who are “laborers” in His harvest. If God has raised up a laborer, it is because He has a harvest in that area. However, because the laborers are few, they tend to be overwhelmed and hesitant. “Therefore,” Jesus says, “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers.”
There is a power that comes from God, that is released uniquely from prayer, which activates the “send” signal in God’s laborers. Thus, we are commanded: “beseech the Lord of the harvest.” As we pray, the appointments of God begin to take place, laborers receive supernatural opportunities, and the harvest takes on divine dimensions.
Most of us look at the news and see conflicts, catastrophes and chaos in our world. We are like “deer in the headlines.” Let us, even in these times of terrors and wars, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send forth His anointed and powerful laborers! Let them be sent into the Muslim world; let them serve the state of Israel and sit as judges in supreme courts of earth. Let us pray for laborers to walk the hospitals and gather souls in the great byways of life.
When I discuss the great vision of becoming Christlike, at some point that vision must become functional within us. The more we become Christlike, the greater we will be compelled by God for the lost. Let us not lose sight that, even in our world and in these turbulent times, the harvest is still plentiful.