Farming and agriculture are abundantly used themes throughout scripture. Christ used examples of plants growing and the harvest multiple times in parables; Paul used them as an example in 1 Corinthians 3:6. The parallels with agriculture can be seen in our own lives, in our own walk with Christ, and in how we disciple others. Just as a seed is planted, sprouted, grows and then is harvested, we follow a similar pattern as Christians.
So what is our role on the Father’s farm? Well, we fulfill multiple roles in this Holy Agriculture at different times in our walk. Some may plant seeds for a season and some may cultivate for a season. Paul made a reference to this in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
Paul makes it clear that the credit for the spiritual growth is God’s. Some of us may plant the seeds of Truth in those around us, and others may continue their discipleship, but it is all the working of God that will lead them Home. Regardless of what you view your role in the church, or your community, to be, you have a role in cultivating your Christian brethren.
Imagine a farmer scooping up a handful of dirt in the field. Imagine the worms in the dirt wriggling around and trying to return to the field. They seem so insignificant, yet they are vital. Without them, the field would not be properly aerated and would not yield the crops as effectively. Let’s look at the story of Gideon, when considering the need for prominence in doing God’s work. He came from a lowly Jewish family with no ties to nobility or greatness. When the angel of the Lord found him to call him to action he balked at the thought (Judges 6:15):
He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”
Despite Gideon’s protestations about his lowly position, God used him to bring salvation to his Chosen People. Others, like Paul, were humbled by God so that they could be effective in building the Kingdom (Acts 9).
Then, if we all have a role to play, how do we fulfill those roles? Well, there are three active phases that we participate in when discipling our brethren: preparing the soil, planting the seed, and cultivating the crop.
In preparing the soil, we are making the person ready to hear the Gospel. This is done through engaging them in conversation, living Christ through our actions, and making it clear that there is a difference in our lives. We have to be the instrument for God to soften their hearts and make them realize the yearning for Him with which we are all born. Talking about the Gospel to those around us may work, but even more effective is the giving and showing of good Christ-like love. Consider John 13:34-35:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Once God has opened the heart of an individual, it is ready to be planted with the seed of the Gospel. Here, presenting the overwhelming Truth of the Gospel will help them know their need for Salvation. When the individual has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, the seed is planted. Some are called to evangelism in this form, but we are all called to help prepare the soil of the heart. We are all called to help cultivate and be cultivated as we grow in Christ.
Similar to actual farming activities, the act of preparing the soil is a long process, as is the act of cultivating and supporting the growth of the crop. Comparatively, planting the seed is a quick activity, but in the church it seems to get the most attention. A seed planted on poorly tilled ground will not yield much for a spiritual crop. So after the seed has been planted and the individual has accepted Salvation, the long important work begins.
Discipleship is the cultivation activity. Discipleship is not a singular activity, nor is it one way. Elders can be discipled in some ways by the young, as the young are discipled by the elders. God has woven the theme throughout all of history that no one’s experience, birth, or station in society makes them above another. We must seek to be discipled just as we disciple others. When we feel there is no more for us to learn in our walk with Christ, then we have become as the rich man (Mark 10: 23-25):
And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Here the wealthy struggled to enter into the Kingdom of God because they did not think they needed anything from God. We can do nothing outside of the Grace of God. It is only through Him and His power that we are saved. We see in Proverbs 1:5-7 that we must seek teaching and our own discipleship to gain His Wisdom:
A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It is only through Him that we grow. We must seek Him and His Wisdom to be discipled and to disciple those around us. We are all workers on the Father’s farm. We all work in His fields. Let us all work together in Love and Harmony so that we may participate in the Lord’s Harvest!.