“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5)
These words of Jesus can be understood in terms of work for God’s kingdom. The Great Commission is foundational in God’s kingdom work. We as disciples of Jesus are called to it. The work encompasses planting, watering and harvesting (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).
Harvesting is not of higher value or status than the other two tasks. Each function is crucial and very much needed in the overall kingdom work. Without planting or watering there will be no harvest!
The seed of God’s Word can be planted through good deeds; simple sharing of our life testimony; talking about God when asked; prayer of comfort/healing for someone in pain… simple acts of introducing God. However, we do need to recognise the divine appointment and seize the opportunity when prompted by the Holy Spirit. While we may occasionally be called to share the Good News with strangers, most time we need to cultivate the hard ground before planting the seed. This calls for patience and much prayer. Most of us have friends and relatives who are disinterested in Jesus. Our conduct must not alienate them while we remain true to God.
One day, when their hearts are softened, they will ask about God; and we have done our part in cultivating the ground.
Watering can be seen as an act of nurturing the germinating seed sown in a pre-believer’s heart. We must therefore continue to set aside time to befriend and make God attractive through our life. In this respect, I think exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in our conduct will be impactful. Notice that watering demands regularity and consistency, otherwise the young shoot may not reach full potential. To be effective, our engagement cannot be occasional and irregular. We make no apologies for wanting to bring them to know God, but we want to do it as an authentic Christian and a friend whom they trust and respect.
In planting, it is the Holy Spirit who softens heart and gets it ready to receive the seed of God’s Word. In watering, it is the Holy Spirit who causes the seed to grow. And at the appropriate time, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts the person and brings him to a point of acceptance (John 16:7-11). At this time, we must be available to do the harvesting and the follow-up work of nurturing and discipling – teaching them to observe all that He has commanded us (Matthew 28:19-20).
Each one of us may be called to one or to a combination of tasks.
In each task, the Holy Spirit is the source who makes things happen. I would like to encourage all of us to avail ourselves to the call of the Great Commission.
As we obey, the Holy Spirit will empower us to bring His work to fruition to the glory of God. For truly, apart from Him, we can do nothing.
By Shi Pau Soon, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 15&16 March 2014)