Have you ever felt like your life wasn’t making a difference for God?
I can’t begin to count the times that I’ve believed that what I did for Christ seemed totally insignificant. Jesus has been teaching me to keep my eyes solely on Him and to simply accomplish what He asks of me without measuring the results. There’s a passage in Mark that illustrates this subject matter. It begins this way: “On that day, when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him” (Mark 4:35-36). Note the phrase “on that day.” That very day Jesus had taught the crowds about sowing and reaping. In Mark 4:3-20, Jesus spoke about the sower scattering seed, and how some soil (people) could hear the Word and produce fruit thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. In Mark 4:26-29, He spoke about how quickly the seed could produce a harvest and in Mark 4:30-32, He taught about how the smallest seed could produce the greatest harvest. At the end of that day Jesus essentially said, “Let’s put this teaching into practice on the other side of the lake.” So the disciples left the crowd—which many of us will need to do from time to time if we’re going to obey Jesus—and they sailed for the other side.
What was on the other side? Initially, it didn’t look like a large harvest. On the other side of the sea, Jesus was met by a demonized man who lived among tombs. He was unable to be bound by shackles and chains; he lived a tormented life screaming night and day while he gashed himself with stones. When Jesus stepped on the scene this demonically tormented man fell before Him and said, “My name is Legion; for we are many” (Mark 5:9). Legion is a Latin term meaning a Roman regiment, and it refers to a number equivalent to over 6000. The point is this man was being vexed by many demons, and they didn’t want to leave that region (see Mark 5:10). Jesus was just north of Decapolis, an area that was deeply infested with sin, humanism, immorality, and various religions. It was probably no different than your city or mine. Demonic powers and principalities often find their resting place over territories where churches pose little threat to their operations. All of that was about to change because Jesus permitted over 6000 demons to fill a herd of swine. However, the pigs couldn’t tolerate what people often do and they rushed off a steep bank and about 2000 of them drowned. The herdsmen reported the incident to people in the city, and when they came to inspect the damage they implored, begged, and pleaded with Jesus to leave their region in spite of the fact that this one-time demonized man was now clothed and in his right mind.
As Jesus was getting into the boat to leave that region, the man who had been delivered requested to accompany Him. Jesus, however, told him to go back into Decapolis and tell of the great things that Jesus had done (see Mark 5:19). On the surface, that day looked like a giant failure. Outside of one person being delivered, no one else that day was open to the seeds that were being sown. Jesus had asked His disciples to go to the other side to sow seed, and for what? They were kicked out of the city; the crusade got shut down and they were told to leave. At first glance, we might have the tendency to complain about such a small harvest, but here is the rest of the story. Mark 5:20 indicates that this transformed man began to proclaim the great things that Jesus did and everyone was amazed. When Jesus came back a second time to Decapolis months later, the people didn’t request that Jesus leave their region; not this time. Instead, they brought to Him someone who needed to be healed and they implored Jesus to lay hands on him (see Mark 7:31-32). Additionally, crowds gathered for several days and Jesus, moved with compassion, multiplied seven loaves and some fish. About 4000 people were ministered to in the very region that Jesus was once asked to leave (see Mark 8:1-9).
I find it interesting that the first time Jesus was near Decapolis He sowed a small mustard seed, much like the story that He told before sailing to the other side (see Mark 4:30-32). If we’re not careful, we will spurn the seemingly small and insignificant opportunities requested of us by Jesus. Yet our faithfulness to obey His voice regardless of surface evidence can produce a harvest of many souls for the kingdom. Don’t ever judge the size of your harvest by the size of what you’ve sown; and don’t minimize the transformation of only a few people. It only takes one person who has been significantly touched by God’s mercy to affect an entire city.
Years ago, A.W. Tozer warned the Church of the dangers of statistics, numbers, and law of averages. He cautioned against the ecclesiastical structures that kept Christians focused on such “unspiritual” things. When we operate from the realm of the kingdom of God we discover that little is much in the hands of God. In the kingdom, we learn that God takes the foolish things, the weak things, and the despised things, and He accomplishes amazing results. From His perspective, there are not wasted efforts if we’re completely obedient to His assignments.
So, keep on sowing to the Spirit and you will reap a harvest if you don’t give up (see Gal. 6:8-9).
Jesus, forgive me for being more concerned with results than with obedience. Help me to follow you wherever you lead and sow seeds into everyone I meet. And may the harvest be greater than I could ever imagine, in Jesus’ name, amen.