Jesus’ words have an urgency about them. The New Living Translation picks up on it. “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work,” (John 9.4, NLT). We must quickly be about this business. Why? Because night is coming, soon no man can work.
I grew up in West Texas in a small community surrounded by farm land. I can still remember the farmers working until all hours of the night stripping the cotton, and hauling massive white bundles to the local gin for processing. At times, stray fragments of cotton would cover the roads like a mild winter snow.
Before electricity, there was a real sense of urgency to get the crop in once it was ready to be harvested. Men would work long and hard in the fields, but they had to work quickly because night was coming when all work had to stop.
The night is coming soon
That is what Jesus had in mind here. We are laboring in the field—reaching people for Christ and walking with them to maturity. It takes work and sustained effort. It takes vision and determination. It takes the patience and endurance of a farmer.
But there will come a time when we can no longer do it. Night is coming when all work will stop. That coming night may be the Lord’s return. When he comes, all the redemptive work of sharing the gospel and making disciples will be over. The harvest will be in.
The coming night may be the end of your life. Your days are numbered. Your time is short. The days for you to invite people to know Jesus and invest in people to walk like Jesus are coming to a close. No matter which one Jesus had in mind, his call is urgent. We don’t have all the time in the world. If you are going to make disciples, now is the time to be busy. Now is the time to invest your life. Now is the time to lead like you have never led before, because night is coming when your work will be done.
Jesus’ call to action
Jesus’ call is an urgent call to action. And action is needed because so much is at stake. Think about it. The church is at stake. How much longer do you really think the church will be able to sustain itself if disciple making is ignored? Already we are seeing the signs of decline, but Jesus gave us the simple solution. Make disciples.
When you look at history, revival, and spiritual awakenings have gone hand in hand with disciple making—from the great awakenings of Europe to the Jesus movement in the 1970s. The church in America today desperately needs to turn back to making disciples.
The lives of those far from God are at stake. How will this world be reached? How will the nations hear the gospel? They will hear it from men and women who are sold out to Jesus and know how to multiply their lives in others. They will hear from men and women who have decided to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.
The hearts of the people in your church are at stake. Right now, there are people in your church who desperately need someone to show them how to walk with God. They need someone to come alongside them, show them how to walk with God, how to reach their world, and invest in a few. How will they grow if you do not show them? How will they mature if you do not provide someone to pour into their lives?
The impact of your ministry is at stake. Robert Coleman, in his book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, makes a poignant statement.
“One must decide where he wants his ministry to count— in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of his life in a few chosen ones who will carry on his work after he has gone? Really, it is a question of which generation we are living for.”
Where do you want your life to count? Will your ministry be something that achieved a certain level of temporary success, only to be forgotten after you are gone? Will the sermons you preach and the buildings you build become objects of the past with little lasting value?
Surely God wants your ministry to be more than that! If you invest your life in others and teach them to do the same, your ministry will always be reaching the next generation. Your ministry will always bear lasting fruit, fruit that remains until Jesus comes, and you will prove yourself to be a true disciple of Jesus (John 15.8).
Don’t buy into the lure of temporary success. Invest your life for the long haul. Your life can be more than just managing a church. It can be about joining a movement that changes the world. Don’t settle for anything less.
You are a stone in flight.
When I think about these things, I picture myself throwing a rock into a pristine lake. The water is glass. There is a stillness in the air. I draw back and release the stone with all the force I can muster. I see it tumble in the air, drawing an arc in the sky, until it plummets to the water’s surface. Splash! Immediately, the rock vanishes underneath.
In many ways your life is like that. You are a stone in flight, making a splash on this Earth. But no matter how big a splash you make, it is only for a moment, and then you will disappear from here. Soon the lake will return back as it was before.
But if you give yourself to making disciples and you teach them to do the same, you can leave behind ripples of multiplication. Life on life, flowing from one to the other, until the movements reach the banks of the shore. Your one life can ignite a movement that continues until Jesus returns.
So, let’s give ourselves to this call of Jesus. Let’s make the bold moves. Let’s throw our lives into making disciples like Jesus so that when he comes, he will find that our lives were fruitful and that his glory was put on display!
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