In Matthew 28:16-20 Jesus gave us what is known as The Great Commission. It reads as follows, "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
In these four verses, Jesus has left us a great command. Not all of us were put in positions to “make disciples of all nations” but we were all told to “go”! Each one of us has our own sphere of influence, but what are we doing to make disciples of those that are in it? Do we even know what their beliefs are? Do we know if our family, our friends or our neighbors are saved? Are we reaching out to people regardless of their social, economic or political backgrounds? I was dining in a local restaurant the other night with my wife, and God was really convicting me. As I looked around at the 50 plus people in there, I realized that there were only a handful of them that I knew for sure believed in Christ. God started to open my eyes to the fact that I am failing to live up to the command to "Go"! I started to think about how many people have passed through my eyesight on any given day that I didn't even give a thought to their salvation. It is sad but true; I haven't always been sowing the seed.
We all have reasons that we use to justify why we don't share our faith. Fear of rejection, our own pride, fear of not knowing the answers to their questions and even the sin in our own lives. In 1st Peter 3 :14 it tells us, "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." Listen, we are going to suffer for our faith. We are going to experience some discomfort and some outright hatred from those outside of Christ. We may even suffer some separation from family or friends because of our belief in Jesus Christ. But whatever that discomfort, rejection and persecution we suffer, it is only minor compared to what Jesus suffered for us on the Cross.
The following article is based on a sermon by missionary Del Tarr who served fourteen years in West Africa with another mission agency. His story points out the price some people pay to sow the seed of the gospel in hard soil.
(I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year's food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.
October and November...these are beautiful months. The granaries are full -- the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday's Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.
December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don't stay well on half a meal a day. April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.
Then, inevitably, it happens. A six-or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. "Daddy! Daddy! We've got grain!" he shouts. "Son, you know we haven't had grain for weeks." "Yes, we have!" the boy insists. "Out in the hut where we keep the goats -- there's a leather sack hanging up on the wall -- I reached up and put my hand down in there -- Daddy, there's grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!"
The father stands motionless. "Son, we can't do that," he softly explains. "That's next year's seed grain. It's the only thing between us and starvation. We're waiting for the rains, and then we must use it." The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.
The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, "Brother and sisters, this is God's law of the harvest. Don't expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears." And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don't mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, "I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this -- but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy." )
If sowing the seed of the gospel was easy then everyone would be doing it. But Jesus never said it would be easy. The path is narrow and the workers are few. So how do we reach out to those people in our lives that need Jesus? Well, if we learn anything from how Jesus dealt with people it should be that he reached out to all people. He was not a respector of persons. He didn't care what social, economic, ethnic or racial background they were from. He didn't avoid them because they were living their life the wrong way or in the wrong place. He didn't hold up religious signs, berate people for the way they were living or ambush them with religious material.
Look at how He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. He was gentle, he didn’t preach at her or belittle her for the way she was living her life. He reached out to her, built a bridge of love and compassion and shared the good news. He was a Jew, she was a Samaritan. Her life was a wreck and full of bad decisions. She had five previous husbands and now had a boyfriend. They were not supposed to associate with each other for many reasons. Yet Jesus left us the example and broke those barriers down. He reached out!
We have a tendency to believe that evangelism is a process with a certain number of steps to take to get to the goal. We need to scrap that way of thinking because Jesus didn’t follow a 10 step process. His instructions to us were very simple; they were to “GO”. We have no problem sharing the good news about the birth of a child, an accomplishment we have achieved or even our political opinions. We need to follow His example and start reaching out to those around us, build that bridge of love and compassion and share the good news of Jesus Christ. If we want to experience revival in our lives, our churches and our communities then we need to start sowing the seed. Revival will only happen when you and I put ourselves in position to let God use us. We can pray all we want, but if we’re not willing to “sow in tears” there will be no joy later.