I have often heard it said that the spiritual soil in Europe is hard, that people, here, just don’t respond to the Gospel of Jesus. But recently, I heard someone say quite emphatically that this is actually a lie from Satan, meant to discourage us from entering the field.
So, which is it?
I have always been a bit uncomfortable with the assessment that the field here is difficult. My sense is that in Berlin, at least, there is a surprising openness to spiritual things. I have also believed for a long time that the spiritual harvest in Berlin is ripe. But this begs the question: Why don’t I see more people coming to faith in Christ?
I have to admit I actually feel unqualified to answer questions regarding the nature of the spiritual harvest field in Berlin, feeling I have personally not truly tested it. This begs another question: What have I been doing here for eight years?
It is a good question.
Generally speaking, I have tried to be “salt and light.” I have tried to be the fragrance of grace and life to those who are dying, apart from Christ. But in reality, I have done little real proclamation of the Gospel of the Cross outside the church. Surely, there is spiritual fruit to be cultivated through faithful preaching of the Word from the pulpit each Sunday. But the Word must also be taken out and proclaimed in the world. (We have the promise of God in Scripture that His Word will not return empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which He sends it!)
So, I must be about the business of planting the seeds of God’s Word in the hearts of people who do not know Him. I must be about the business of scaring away the birds and removing the rocks and pulling the weeds so that the Word might take root and grow in them. And I must be about the business of reaping the harvest. But as is true with an agricultural harvest, so, too, with a spiritual harvest: it will not come in by itself. I must go out into the field to bring it in.
For me, it remains to be seen whether the spiritual soil in Europe is really hard or not, or whether there are, in fact, many souls “ripe” and ready to be reconciled to God in Christ. What has become increasingly clear to me, however, is the hardness of my own heart to the call of Christ to proclaim the Gospel of His love outside the comfortable confines of the church. I may encounter hard soil “out there,” but, first, I must deal with the hard soil “in here,” in me.
Please pray with me and for me and for all of us at Christ Church that the Holy Spirit might soften our hearts, that we might be compelled by the love of Christ to proclaim that same love to those who do not know Him. May we learn to obey and to act in accordance with the prayer we say together each Sunday as we leave His table.
we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious body and blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ:
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the body of your Son,
and heirs of your eternal Kingdom.
And now Father, send us out into the world to do the work
you have given us to do,
to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.