Releasing the Reapers

In a recent time of prayer, there was a focus on Matthew 9.36-38, where Jesus sees the crowds and has compassion on them all. He tells the disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. I was drawn to the 3 letters, RTR, which obviously stand for RollTheRock, but I felt there was more, and over a little time, God gave me a new sense of these initials - that they stood for Releasing the reapers.

Jesus tells the disciples that the harvest is plentiful, a large harvest, if you like, to be reaped. We shouldn't underestimate all that it is that God wants to do and the lives he wants to draw close to himself. How often do we sell ourselves short, or God short, because we haven't grabbed hold of the vastness of all that it is that he wants to do.

But then Jesus says that the workers are few. If this is the case, do we need to shift our position to be more releasing? If the harvest is that vast, then it will take more workers to harvest it. It is more than possible that there are people ready to reap, but they are waiting to be released, sent, by others in leadership. The workers may be few partly because people haven't stepped up to the call of God on their lives, but it also might be because they haven't felt that release and sending by those in leadership over them. If the harvest is to be truly reaped, then more people need to be sent and more need to respond to the call of God to be sent.

Reaping is an outward activity; the crops don't come to a farmer, the farmer has to go to them to reap. So why do we think that people are going to come to church gatherings, when we know that they aren't? The reality is that we are going to need to go to where they are, so that reaping can properly take place. So we need to stop the hoarding and be a lot more releasing of people if we are to see the harvest being reaped.

The harvest may well be vast, but so is the need to send the reapers, which is why we need to be church that releases the reapers.

Where does grace show itself in our lives?

You might remember the old acronym of GRACE, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense". The thing about this is that grace is about us receiving God's riches! Do we actually put ourselves in a place of receiving his riches? Do we even believe that we deserve to receive them?

Very often I have heard in churches, people speaking about receiving gifts from God and how they are not worthy of receiving those gifts. They focus much more, if not totally, on the unworthiness to receive, rather than on the fact that God, our Father, wants to give us gifts in the first place.

We speak so much about what God has for people when we talk to others, yet they may find themselves in a church community or environment where we put ourselves down so much that it creates an atmosphere where they will put themselves down as well. This can get in the way of them receiving any gift that God might want to give them.

This is not to put us at the centre, because God is always at the centre. Nor is it about building our egos or anything like that. What it is about is realising that God wants to give us gifts and those gifts are good gifts. The more we put ourselves down, the more we put ourselves in a place of not receiving all the gifts that God has for us.

In Genesis, God talks about how mankind is made in his image. Therefore, if we are truly made in God's image, why wouldn't he want to give us gifts? - he sees something of himself in us, the people whom he has created. And maybe if we started putting ourselves in a place of receiving God's gifts, the rest of the world might get to understand more about what it means to receive God's gifts. How can others know the God who loves, the God who gives, if they don't see it in the people who are meant to live their lives as though they know him and receive from him?

So, let's change our posture, our positioning, and place ourselves in that place of receiving from God, being open to his riches. And out of receiving, let's enable ourselves to be even more giving people, so that others also receive all that God has to give to them.

Do we enable people to feel chosen or rejected

Many of us will have memories of our school days, the PE lessons, and two people picked as captains, and then they have to choose who they want on their team! those days of knowing that you were going to be last, and only end up on someones team because the other person didn't choose you. This process of team picking often leads to people thinking that they aren't worth much, or valuable to others, and they can start to feel rejected.

Not being chosen often leads to that feeling of being rejected. And we see it so much in our society today, where people are overlooked because according to those doing the choosing, they don't quite fit. But, really, what does it actually mean to fit?

many at times have overlooked me, because I am blind. they make their assumptions about what I can do, what I am worth to a team, and my ability to do things, without talking to me, asking me, or especially pushing past the blindness, to seeing the person, not just the blindness. It is a challenge to all of us, that we don't allow the church to become that place of rejection for people, but the place not just of acceptance, but chosenness.

But maybe the fact that much of society doesn't feel chosen, and feel chosen by the church, is because we ourselves, haven't got to grips with what it really means for us, as Gods people to be chosen. If we haven't got to grips with being chosen ourselves, how can we expect others to feel chosen? We won't demonstrate what it means to be chosen if we aren't receiving gods choosing in the first place. it is time that we really started to embrace the fact that we are chosen people, so that we can live lives, that enable others to feel chosen as well.

the difference between the kingdom of God and the school PE lessons, is that everyone is chosen, everyone has the invitation to join in, nobody is excluded, but people can choose themselves, to be excluded. how much do we actually extend the invitation, and enable people to feel chosen, rather than them feeling rejection, excluded, or simply just not wanted.

In our work with young people, we should always have that invitation at the heart of what we do, and who we are, there should never be any sense of rejection. But many young people have felt that rejection, because of us puting behaviour before the ability or invitation to belong. Jesus invited people to follow him, and he would show them the way, and offer to guide them, they would know that they are chosen, and it was down to them whether they accepted his choosing or they decided to reject it. Jesus was inclusive of his invitation, and enabling people to feel chosen, but people would often reject this for various reasons.

Maybe it is time for us to start living those chosen lives, so that we can truly extend the invitation to others, and enable them to feel chosen, and that way, bring gods love, value, worth to people, and they no longer feel rejection, or exclusion from all that God has for them.

1: What does it mean for you to live a life knowing that you are chosen?
2: How can you ensure that others around you are invited, and not rejected?

Reformation

My knowledge of history, and the reformation is so limited that i am not even going to attempt it here, but what is possibly worth exploring is some of what could be principles behind reformation?

unsettlement: Reformation generally comes when there is some form of unsettlement with the current status quo. But true reformation is not just the human unsettlement, it should and does come from God, when he shakes what currently is, and wants to reform the current into something of what he wants it to be.

there is a recognition across the country at the moment, that Reformation is needed amongst Discipling young people and young adults. There is a stirring, and unsettlement with what is currently being offered or provided, or lived out, and the growth of young disciples needs a reformation. it cannot be, that God would settle for those young people now who have made that choice, or starting to live out that Discipleship lifestyle? God would surely want as many young people as it was possible to hear, to have the opportunity, and have the ways in which discipleship actually meant something to them in their context.

Discipleship: From that place of unsettlement, has to come the recognition of the need of reforming discipleship. We have gone so far in our attempts to work with young people, and engage with their issues, but somewhere along the line, Jesus has been either removed, forgotten, or left to a later stage, which in many cases just doesn't happen. Professionalising youth leaders has enabled them to certainly be good youth workers, working with young people, but the professionalising of youth leaders has made them that, professionals, rather than disciples who make disciples. there cannot be a discounting of what it means to engage with young people, and those practices, but we have gone so far, that the forming of disciples who make disciples is remote at best.

Discipleship is something that today, is attempted to fit into our practices, rather than being the foundation of our existence and practice. We need to be prepared to take the risks, step out, try new things, go to where young people are at, and stop thinking that they are going to come to us to be discipled.

Jesus as Lord: Following from our thoughts that we have adopted so many practices that discipleship is now a sideline, we need to get back to the foundation that Jesus is Lord, and is our only Lord, there is no room for anyone, or anything else to be Lord in our lives. We need to move from having our youth work practices as our foundation, to having Jesus as our foundation, and working out of that strong foundational place. There will of course be many elements that are brought into discipleship, and knowing Jesus, but this needs to be our starting place now, rather than our working practices, or other youth work activities coming first.

These are not finished thoughts, they are a starting point, but sometimes things need to be put out in the open so that the reformation can begin, and all that God has for young people, and wants to be for young people, can start to come into place.

Reformation needs to start from that place, of recognising that the current status quo is not going to do what it proclaims it is going to do, and for people to step out bravely, passionately, and in the guidance of God to see the reformation take place.