Harvest Reform

I recently had the opportunity to ride along with my dad in the combine. Now I have to admit it was only a midsize Massey Ferguson with a six row corn head. But hey, I had to take what I can get; I’m still waiting for an invitation from a farmer around here to ride in a John Deere with a twelve row head. Anyway, wow could that thing eat the corn; according to the display screen we were traveling at about five mph while harvesting 230 bushels per acre.
As we were traveling along, my dad and I began to reminisce about what harvesting was like fifty years ago. Back then if an acre produced a hundred bushels of corn it was considered a “crib buster.” The corn was harvested in the ear with a two row picker, hauled to the farm yard in small dump box wagons, and then emptied into corn cribs. What would’ve taken weeks to harvest back then now can be accomplished in one day. I think you would have to agree, the amazing reformation in harvesting technology over the past 50 years has really increased productivity in the agriculture industry.
Speaking of reformation, this Thursday, October 31, marks the anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that was initiated by Martin Luther back in 1517. Luther had major concerns about some of the leadership practices and abuses that were hindering the fruitfulness of God’s Church. The common folk were being deceived as to how a person attained salvation. The spiritual abuse taking place was that the people were forced to pay money to the church government in order to have their sins forgiven or to have their loved ones set free from purgatory.
As Luther reflected on those who were governing the Church, and the way they were conducting their lives, he realized it was time for reform. As Luther interpreted Scripture, it was clear to him that the current practices of the Church of that day were far from the intended purpose of the Church that Jesus died for. The truth of the Bible had become twisted and distorted and rather than becoming life changing and freeing, following Jesus had been reduced to religious bureaucracy. What a sad testimony about the Bride of Christ.
So what do you think? Would you say 500 years later that the Church in America is any healthier or fruitful? Maybe we aren’t charging people to have their sins forgiven, but does our current method of discipleship really equip people to experience the abundant life within the kingdom of God? What reformation must take place in order to help people become more passionate about inviting lost people into the kingdom of God? What reformation must take place in my heart that would draw me to abide more deeply in the vine so that I would bear more fruit?
As I reflect on the current health and fruitfulness of ARC, I am so excited to see the many ways we have joined with God in his redeeming work. And yet I still have some major concerns; like Martin Luther I have a vision for further reform. Maybe we could learn from the farmers; they had a vision for more than two row corn pickers. Consistory, again it starts with us, I believe God has a greater vision for this ministry than we are experiencing. It’s time for another reformation! Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
To God be the Glory, Mike

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