One Link in the Chain

John 4:34-38 - "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. 35Do 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. 36Even 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. 37Thus the saying 'One sows and the other reaps' is true. 38I 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."

A chain cannot be used to push, but it can be used to pull or draw. 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 bayonet point to the Cross. No! God's way of operation 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, remember?) - but they all lead to Himself 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: "I just couldn't get that guy who was always talking about Jesus off my mind. How could I not read the little booklet which 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 another girl that I kept meeting in the cafeteria. She would always bow her head before eating. My curiosity about this resulted in her sharing with me (out of the Bible she produced, seemingly from 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 hitchhiking home from school last week? He certainly was no polished preacher because he kept stumbling and 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 that there were three other people praying for me! I couldn't resist all this love! That night, all alone, I committed my life to Jesus Christ."

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. How many chains have you 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 the Twelve from the cornfield to the "field" of the Samaritans who at this very moment are seen in the distance making their way toward Him (v30). A Samaritan woman had become a link in the chains that were drawing these people to Jesus (v39). Former links had involved the hard work of the prophets (v38). Now it was the disciples' turn to become links. "I sent you to reap what you have not worked for" (v38). Their job was not to form the whole chain. The lesson of the fields was that they were sent to be "one link in the chain." We too are sent to be links. We must learn the lessons that the Master Chainbuilder would teach us.

The first lesson in being a link is: Get Aware! Verse 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 staring us right in the face! We're spiritually blinded so much of the time because out interests are physical, like those of the disciples. (See vs31-33.) We are to look on the fields, not ourselves. Eating in the cafeteria should not be just a daily exercise in feeding ourselves but rather can be an opportunity to sow and reap in the field that is right there in front of us.

God is working on a lot of chains around you. In fact, there may be a loose end sitting 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 may be just the right link now for a chain that will be completed next year. So don't be disappointed if that person doesn't become a Christian immediately. Remember, "one sows and another reaps" (v37). 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! Too often we say, "Four months more and then the harvest." "After this tough semester, I'll start sharing my faith." "After I get it all together myself, I'll be ready to verbalize in the field." Wrong thing! The fields are ripe now! Note that "even now" is mentioned twice in verse 36. The Lord is telling us that there are many chains out there that are ready for the last few links. Let us 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 it as receiving crowns. (See 1 Corinthians 9:2425.) The idea here is not a selfish "chalking up points" in heaven, but of living a life with eternal values in view. There is reward both on this earth and in heaven for faithful links according to verse 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 are being hooked together.

Futhermore, is there any better "food" on this earth than knowing that we are doing God's work according to His will? (See v34.) 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 we have reaped the benefits of their labor (v38). But some day sower and reaper will be glad together (v36). Faithful links all along the chain will celebrate together in heaven! How many parties will you be invited to?!

Question: Which link is the most important in a chain? Answer: Everyone! No matter how long the chain, continuity depends on every link. Your link in some chain may only be living up to what your bumper sticker proclaims or leaving a pamphlet in a rest room, but it could be an important link. On the other hand, your link may be disciplined and regular prayer for a teacher or verbalizing the good news of Jesus Christ (even if you stumble for words!) to a student you may not see again after this semester. Let us take every opportunity to be "one link in the chain."
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