It has been a few weeks since our last reflection, mainly because we at Corrimal Community Church along with our fellow workers/travellers have been engaging a season of commissioning missionaries to the fields of Australia; in particular our neighbourhood and adjacent communities. This is the time we have been working towards for a couple of years and we look forward to May; Mission(ary) Mobilization Month. More soon …..
Over the last couple of weeks Graeme has focused on a revelatory thought which emerged from the Northern Illawarra High School Scripture Teacher Commissioning which we hosted on Sunday 12th March. The idea isn’t a new one but it came directly from seeking Jesus’ revelation about ‘commissioning’. Simply stated, ‘We can’t express fruit without being connected to the vine (that’s connected to the tree) AND we can’t express the gifts without the gift …’ (Acts 1:1-9) In the same way that the legacy we leave is measured by the fruit of how we engage with the world we live in , YOU and I could be seen as the ‘First Fruits’ of the human harvest that God is cultivating on the earth towards representing God’s kingdom ‘On earth AS IT IS in Heaven’.
We then explored some scriptures (see further reading) about this and resolved that there seemed to be TWO (2) applications for this ‘first fruits’ concept and BOTH were offerings.
If we consider a ‘natural’ harvest, there is always a small portion of the crop ready for harvest earlier than the rest. Israel’s offering of the ‘first fruits’ of the harvest to the Father God was in faith that the one who gave the ‘first’ would also ‘complete’ the harvest. This directly aligns with the idea that we give the first of all God has given us stewardship over back to him. Now if we consider a ‘super-natural harvest, we too, the first fruit of humanity, give ourselves completely to God trusting in HIS PRIMARY PURPOSE to ‘complete’ the FULL harvest IN and THROUGH us. As followers of Jesus and representatives of the kingdom of heaven, we are ready for heaven before others have even realized that heaven has been prepared for them ALSO! (Phil. 2:9-11). Jesus offered Himself so we could be rescued therefore we offer ourselves so others can be rescued.
You and I, the 100% human of the heavenly equation, labour in partnership with God who gives the growth. As such, we SHARE in HIS sufferings AND HIS victories. We want shortcuts BUT one is not possible without the other and we learn more about that in scriptures like Rom. 8. If the creation itself groans in pain waiting to be liberated (Rom. 8:21) THEN we must acknowledge that the current rule on earth is demonic. HOWEVER, God through Christ and all of heaven represented by the CHURCH (HIS FIRST FRUITS) have begun a revolution that cannot be stopped. The Church is supposed to be the primary weapon in this revolution, continuing what Jesus was sent to accomplish.
Jesus told parables to describe the Kingdom and its revolutionary work (E.g. Matthew 13) We might be the first fruits of the harvest that God is making in the world but the “already/not yet” language used is based upon these teachings about the kingdom.
The revolution is more like the persistent growth of a mustard seed than a military conquest, more like the gradual way yeast leavens a loaf of bread than a forceful and hostile rebuke of the kingdom of this world.
Do we want to see an increase of God’s Kingdom Rule on the earth?
Do we want to see more of Jesus and less of the destruction of Satan?
Then there is a responsibility that comes with being ‘first fruits’; as Efrem Smith once penned, ‘BE a preview of Heaven’ and what the Kingdom of God will be like!
So ….. God, sent His only Son into the world (the living word become flesh) to build HIS church by inviting us to recognise that Jesus is THE CHRIST, (the embodiment of ‘the divine dance’ revealed to Peter). Once recognized and proclaimed we then respond to His invitation, take His extended hand, become his body, represent the kingdom of God as heaven’s embassy on earth: Being present; in love, without judgement …. And the Lord added to their number daily etc.
Heaven’s Embassy (the Church) IS FULL of GOD’s FIRST FRUITS
Jesus Christ was SENT to reveal God (Jn 1:1, 14:8-10; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), to Proclaim the kingdom of LIGHT thus defeating the kingdom of darkness (Heb. 2:8; I Jn 3:8; Col. 2:14-15), to Redeem & Restore all of creation (Rom. 8:20-23; Col. 1:18-20), which STARTS with rescuing humans AND AS SUCH restoring them to their rightful place of responsibility for the earth (Heb. 2:8; Rev. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:12).
Of course, we know that these things were the goal, but why then are they not our reality?
Why is God not yet fully revealed?
Why is the kingdom of darkness not yet fully defeated?
Why do many humans seem to not yet be saved and not yet ruling rightly in the world???
This week, try to find some time to step aside from the busy-ness and read Matthew 13 right through in such a way as to hear from God and meditate on some of the answers to the above questions. Write down in your journal some specifics that the Holy Spirit reveals to you about how you might apply this to your daily life. If you can, share your discoveries with someone over a cuppa and see if together you can think of how church life could adapt to be more like this.
Extra Individual Response or Group Questions
- Do you think of yourself as a first fruit of the Harvest of God? If not, try it on – does it change how you think about life? Discuss what comes to mind.
- Since we are the first fruits, do we have reason to trust that God will also bring a great harvest for the rest of humanity? How might that change your sense of hope about the future for non-Christians?
- Discuss how a changed sense of hope my shape our role as first fruits? I.e. How could we (think YOU and your church) impact our neighbourhoods with this new clarity?
Review scriptures quoted in ‘Practical Application’ + Romans 8 & 11:16; Exodus 23:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Revelation 14: 4-5; James 1:18