Becoming One Link In The Chain
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and the other reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:34-38
A chain cannot be used to push anything, but it can be used to pull or draw many things. In this sense a chain is a striking object lesson of the process by which God brings a person to Himself. God’s practice is not to clobber a person into submission and then force him to walk at gun point to the Cross. No! God’s way of operating is to draw a person to Himself by a chain of love — a series of linked events and encounters that have been forged in the eternal workshop of God. The chains that God makes may take on some unexpected patterns (chains are flexible), but they all lead to Him — one link at a time.
God uses a variety of links in His love chains, but by far the most frequent link is the “person link.” Almost always, in looking back over the chain, a new Christian will say something like this: “That guy who was always talking about Jesus — I just couldn’t get him off my mind. How could I not read the little tract he gave me? And then there was that girl who was really concerned that I didn’t have a job — and she said she would pray about it, of all things! Then after I suddenly got this job, there was this other girl that I kept seeing in the cafeteria. She would always bow her head before eating. My curiosity about this resulted in her sharing with me (from a Bible she pulled out of nowhere) what was obviously the most exciting thing in her life. Her relationship with Jesus Christ was written all over her! And how can I ever forget the guy who picked me up when I was hitch-hiking back to school last week? He certainly was no polished preacher because he kept stumbling, stuttering and repeating himself. But for the first time in my life I began to understand that God loves me and that Jesus came to earth to die for me. Could this be true? What really blew my mind was that this same stuttering guy showed up two days later and told me there were three other people praying for me! I couldn’t resist all this love! That night, all alone, I gave my life to Jesus Christ.”
|Which Contact Are You?
Studies conclude that people normally have seven to nine contacts with the gospel message before they make a decision for Christ. That is very helpful information, because often we don’t know where people are in that process, when we begin to build a bridge to them.
— Dan Owens
The above testimony is not unusual. In fact, it’s quite typical because God loves to use “person links” in His chains when they are available. Are you available? How many chains have you already been used in? How many chains are out there waiting for your link?
In John 4:34-38 our Lord teaches us how to be links in the chains He is forming. In this Scripture we see Jesus using a cornfield in Samaria to teach His disciples the same lessons He wants us to learn. With a gesture of His outstretched hand, He shifts the attention of his twelve disciples from the cornfield to the “field” of the Samaritans who at this very moment are seen in the distance making their way toward Him (Jn. 4:30). The Samaritan woman, who Jesus had met at the well, had become a link in the chain that was drawing these people to Jesus (Jn. 4:39). Former links had involved the hard work of the prophets (Jn. 4:38). Now it was the disciples’ turn to become links: “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for” Jn. 4:38). Their job was not to form the whole chain. The lesson of the fields was that each was being sent to be “one link in the chain.” We too are sent to be links. We must learn the lessons that the Master Chain-builder wants to teach us.
The first lesson in being a link is: Get Aware! John 4:35 is a rebuke to all of us: “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!” Jesus is commanding us to see the opportunities that are right before us — staring us right in the face! We’re spiritually blinded so much of the time because our interests are physical, like those of the disciples (Jn. 4:31-33). We are to look on the fields, not ourselves. Shopping in the market should not be just a daily exercise in getting food for ourselves but rather an opportunity to sow and reap in the field that is all around us.
God is working on several chains around you. In fact, there may be a loose end near you right now! You may have the privilege of being the last link in the chain between that person and the Lord. On the other hand, the word you share or the friendship you begin to develop may be just the right link now in a chain that will be completed next week, next month or next year. So don’t be disappointed if that person doesn’t become a Christian immediately. Remember, “one sows and another reaps” (Jn. 4:37). Every link is equally important in a chain. The question remains, “Are you an aware and available link?”
Another lesson for links is: Get Busy! There is an urgency about our Lord’s command because the “fields are ripe for harvest.” The fruit must be picked now! Like the disciples, too often we say, “Four months more and then the harvest.” Only ours is something like, “Next year I’ll start sharing my faith.” Or “After I get it all together myself, I’ll be ready to tell others.” Wrong! The fields are ripe now. Note that “even now” is mentioned twice in John 4:36. The Lord is telling us that there are many chains out there that are ready for the last few links. Let’s harvest the ripe fruit before the frost hits!
A further message for links is: Get Crowns! The Bible speaks of reward for faithful service, and pictures that reward as receiving crowns (1 Cor. 9:24-25). The idea here is not a selfish “scoring points” in heaven, but rather living a life with eternal values in view. There is reward both on this earth and in heaven for faithful links according to John 4:36. Reapers who have the privilege of being the harvest link in the chain to eternal life draw wages even now. A million dollars can’t even begin to compare with the overwhelming joy of leading a person to Christ! If you haven’t experienced these wages, then get out in the field where the links in the chain are being hooked together.
Furthermore, is there any better “food” on this earth than knowing that we are doing God’s work according to His will? (Jn. 4:34). And there is still more reward to come! Some faithful links have not had the chance to see the fruit of their hard work on this earth, and others have reaped the benefits of their labor (Jn. 4:38). But some day the sower and the reaper will be glad together (Jn. 4:36). Faithful links all along the chain will celebrate together in heaven. Why? Because “there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:7). How many times will you be part of the celebration?
Which link is the most important in a chain? Answer: Every one! No matter how long the chain, continuity depends on every link. Your link in some chain may be in living up to what your tee shirt or bumper sticker proclaims, or in distributing gospel tracts, or in developing a relationship with an unbeliever — but your link is an important link. Or your link may be regular, persistent prayer for a friend, relative, neighbor or teacher. Or it may be sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with someone (even if you stumble for words like the guy in the beginning of this article). Whatever it is, let’s take every opportunity to be “one link in the chain.”
By David Reid
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.