Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spiritual Farming

What does the picture of the farmer below communicate to you?  Take a look at where he is standing, what he has in his hands, look at his posture, and his focus.  Look at the soil, the water and lastly, look at the crops themselves.  What do you see?

The crops are often the focus in pictures like this, but there is so much more involved in this picture.  Without the farmer, his care, the shovel, water, dirt and sunshine, there would not be any crops.  Often Christians pray for the fruit, the crops, but are less excited about all that is required for the fruit to be enjoyed.

I can imagine this field a few months earlier; there was probably not much growing.  The farmer had to plow the ground and break up the dirt that had become calloused from the winter.  There may have been weeds pulled or rocks removed along with some cover crops planted that would grow quickly and then be plowed back into the ground for additional nutrients.  I'm certain there were was a lot of sweat, sore muscles and prayers for rain as the precious seeds of the crops were sown into the field with great care and anticipation.  Did you notice the knee brace on the farmer?  Possibly a reminder of injuries that come from caring for the land and the crops.  And then there was a bunch of waiting...waiting for the seeds to germinate and poke through the soil that was loved on by the farmer.

After much hard labor, the crops are still not ready for harvest, but they will be soon enough.  A little sunshine, a bit of rain and the tender care and sacrifice of the farmer and the crops will be ready to give up their precious fruit.

The story can be seen as an allegory of what it takes for fruit to be seen in the lives of believers and not yet believers.  There must be a farmer, one who cares for people and is willing to disciple them Discipling people is simply pointing them to Jesus and teaching them to obey His truth.  There must be a lot of prayer and spiritual sweat put into the soil of souls.  This will include time spent with the soil (people), time spent with God in prayer and in the sowing of the hope of God in their hearts.  There must also be patience to wait for the soil (the heart of a person) to be ready to receive the seed and then for germination to take place.  

Helping people become like Jesus is really simple, a heart (soil), the Word of God (seed), some prayer and care (water and sunshine) and a bunch of love (hard work).  It is really simple - just a few ingredients - but helping people become like Jesus does require hard work, discipline, sacrifice and a focus of obedience to what Jesus has called us: to help people become like Him.

Are you making disciples? 
Do you believe that you are to be making disciples?
What excites you or scares you about making disciples of Jesus?
If you are not making disciples, what would be helpful to you in order to begin the process?

Let's dialogue about this if you'd like by leaving a comment/question below.


  1. Hey Ed, It is 2:30AM, I am studying for my photovoltaic test that I have to take today at 12:45PM in Phx. I pray for some fruit from pulling an all-niter. lol...Should I be making disciples? yes. Do I know how? not really. Some positive feedback recently from unexpected sources has led me to believe He is living through me. Galatians 2:20...back to studying...thanks Ed this gave me a boost of energy...Peace out

  2. A great metaphor Ed. Beautifully written and captured my imagination and missional edge. Tending the soil is a much more organic way of reaching the masses. Thanks for your insights.

  3. Hi Dean, glad to know you are studying how to improve solar power. How did you do on your test? Ok so you say you don't know how to make's pretty simply (not easy) people, and point them towards Jesus. Take a look at this link for a helpful tool in making disciples...

    Let me know how you are doing bro!

  4. Travis, thanks for the comment - I pray you are making disciples in strong ways bro. Blessings!

  5. I wish we lived in an agrarian culture today. Families and tribes sweat together on land and in the marketplace. What is the proper metaphor for the post-industrial (info-driven, image-rich) culture of our day? Is it social networks? Collaboration? Wikis? Green and social justice movements? Is it circles (of grace) and Facebook fans? How does this interface with disciple-making, where time is short and information is cheap? Does the 5:00 post from before have anything to say about this?

  6. Tim, as always, wonderful thought provoking comments from a great leader, friend and mentor. You are correct about our post-industrial culture, but I don't think the components for making disciples changes that much. We may use FB and Twitter and other social network tools but without time invested and knee braces worn, deep and reproductive disciples cannot be formed in my opinion. We can teach content (information) but doing life face to face and shoulder to shoulder is necessary for the sound doctrine of Titus 1:15-2:16 to be experienced and passed on. I have not yet found any other short that work...and even doing life together doesn't always work...thus the knee braces of ministry exist.