A Present Reward

John 4:36 “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.”

You know as well as I do that some people have gotten financially rich doing “church work.” With few exceptions that has involved some kind of perversion of the gospel. Five hundred years ago it came from making the church a political institution. Beware of those who want to lead it down a path of political power today. In our time we have seen the rise of the rich televangelist and the prosperity gospel. As Jesus once said of the Pharisees, they have already received their reward in full.

In our own circles, the material rewards are more modest. Clergy, teachers, church workers have all they need–shelter, food, clothes. If we are honest, some have more than some of the people they serve. The pastor or teacher is rarely the poorest person in the congregation. But often their gifts and talents could have made them member of the elite if they had decided to pursue a different path.

The joke for church workers goes that the pay may not be much, but the retirement plan is out of this world. It’s true, you can’t improve on eternal life. But Jesus promises a present reward. “Even now the reaper draws his wages.” His promise implies something special. He is teasing us with this offer of present payment. What are these wages he has in mind?  “Even now he harvests the crop for eternal life…” The wages for the Christian who shares his faith are a share of the crop, the souls, the people with whom we are going to share eternal life.

Give your own field a closer look. The communion of saints, the fellowship of believers, the family of faith is a gift Jesus gives you for your work in the harvest of souls.

The Church, you see, is not the University of Phoenix, an online institution giving out degrees to people who have mastered the information, people who otherwise don’t know each other and have no relationship with each other.

The church is not Facebook, where you have virtual friends. I have not counted them, but many of my Facebook friends are people I have never met in my life.

Maybe my illustrations limp a little, because I can’t claim to have met every member of the Holy Christian Church, either. But I will. And the ones I do know are a gift of God’s grace to me. They are love to be shared and enjoyed, “so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”

Be glad, be glad to be a part of this little fellowship of humble people broken by their sin and redeemed by God’s forgiveness. Enjoy each new addition you find in your little corner of God’s field, coming with their unique set of gifts, loving you, serving you, and enabling you to reap farther and harvest more. God hasn’t merely given you a task, fellow workers. He has given you an ever-growing family to enjoy.

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