[dropcap cap=A]s Jesus traveled from place to place, He was keenly aware of the profound needs of people all around Him. He was moved with compassion. At one point, He turned to His disciples and shared in one word what a world of "harassed" and "helpless" people needs most. This word represents His plan for meeting the greatest human needs.[/dropcap]
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'" (Matthew 9:35-38 RSV).
So, what word did Jesus choose? I'm reluctant to say it. It's not a very glamorous word, and it may not grab your attention and keep you reading. It's a word you'll probably never see in a Madison Avenue advertising campaign. Still, it's the word Jesus chose.
What the world needs, Jesus said, is laborers. Common laborers. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. He tells us to pray that God would send laborers wherever there's human need.
In short, laborers aren't just critical to God's plan for the world. They are God's plan. And there's no Plan B. So, why don't we hear much about what it means to be a Kingdom laborer?
In the last half of the 20th Century and the early part of this century, we've been enamored with ministry activities that are in the spotlight and on the platform. The ministry heroes of the past few decades have been "Christian celebrities"—talented musicians, dynamic speakers, best-selling authors, powerful Christian leaders and well-known pastors. There has been no shortage of these kinds of heroes.
But "Christian celebrities" aren't the answer to the great harvest need. When the work is done, it will have been accomplished by nameless, faceless people who did what they could, where they were, and God added the increase to their labor. God's work through ordinary laborers is what the world needs most. He's not calling just a few select people to make the difference. Instead, His plan is to mobilize an army of laborers who go into every place of human need.
You and I, indeed every one of us, is called to be a laborer in this army. Every Christian has a significant role to play. From those who serve on the platform to those who serve in the hidden places. From those who serve with their mouths and minds to those who serve with their hands and feet.
Because the word laborer is not the everyday, household word used to describe most Christians, you might be wondering what exactly it means. As we've examined the whole of Scripture, we think a clear and simple definition emerges. A laborer is a disciple in action. Whereas the word disciple implies one who accepts a teaching and learns from a master, the word laborer takes it one step further, implying that this teaching is put into action.
But being a laborer isn't just about action. It's also about being—that is, being in a love relationship with Christ. In fact, the Bible seems to identify at least three characteristics that are hallmarks of a laborer (a disciple in action).
I remember in my early days of speaking I ran across the book, 101 Ways to Improve the Self-Concept in the Classroom. There was one sentence in the book that has stuck in my mind ever since. It said, "The most inhibited person will influence at least 10,000 people in the course of his [or her] lifetime."
Each of us—even the most inhibited—has the capacity to impact the lives of countless others! That influence is central to the life of a Kingdom laborer.
A laborer's life is like a drop of water in a lake. One drop causes a ripple effect that spreads out in every direction. Likewise, the circle of influence of one common laborer can be profound.
The circle of influence of an army of laborers can be world-changing.
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