He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:37-38 NLT
Following the global pandemic, there has been a slow recovery of the workforce. We notice this with the continuing supply chain issues, back-ordered items, and lines at the checkouts. Some fast food places have replaced people at the counter with do-it-yourself checkouts. You order the food and pay with a card; the only time you see a person is when they put your food on the counter. All this work still needs to be done, but not enough people to do it.
We can understand where Jesus is coming from. The spiritual work that needs to be done is of vitally more importance than getting a cheeseburger from McDonald’s. One saves your life, and the other, at best, temporarily satisfies hunger (sort of like sin.) More workers, good workers, are needed to bring Jesus' life-saving, love-giving message to a world desperately in need of hope.
There are certainly more people today identifying as followers of Christ than in the time of Jesus and the early church. According to a report published in January of this year by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, there will be over 2.6 billion Christians worldwide by the middle of 2023. This means approximately 32.4% of the global population identifies in some way with Christianity, and the numbers are projected to rise through 2050. Assuming those numbers are correct, we should be optimistic, right?
Well, yes and no, it means there's still 68% that still need to hear the good news. What can't be determined by a study is the depth of commitment to the box checked. For years, I identified as a Christian–for example, when admitted to the hospital, I checked the Protestant option on the form–but I was not living the life of a faithful disciple of Jesus. I continued to blissfully live a life of sin while saying I was a Christian. I was like the salesperson at the store who is there to wait on you–after they're making their after-work plans on the phone and posting on Instagram. They are there; they're getting the benefits of an employee; they just aren't doing their job. Being a Christian means taking up our cross and following Jesus.
As dedicated disciples, we should not be happy with 32.4% of the population. I'm not advocating a return to the Crusades; they were a bit too un-Christ-like for me. But we, in response to Christ's love for us, should not stop the harvest until 100% have heard the good news of Jesus Christ. They may not accept; that's up to the individual, but as committed workers, we harvest the whole field.
Jesus, thank you for calling us by your name to work in the harvest. We are grateful and rejoice in this opportunity to respond to your grace. Please help us grow as committed disciples, so our lives may become pure and blameless. Grant us boldness in sharing your love with everyone, and may all we do glorify your holy name. Amen.
Link to the study referenced.