My great grandfather, grandfather and my Dad are all farmers, which makes me a farmer’s son. I have learned that there is something intimidating about this reality. When I introduce myself commonly the conversation leads into the context in which I was born on a farm and to that most people will immediately begin complimenting me. They say things like, “oh you must be a hard worker?” and others like, “Its not easy being a farmer, having to wake up early on the farm to milk cows.” In addition to, “It takes a lot of strength to do what you do.”
There are hundreds of different things people tell me and yes to some degree I do fulfill that image. However, I would never boast about it and say, “well yeah I fulfill that image completely,” because that is simply not true. I know my Dad probably considers me more as a city boy then a farmer.
Nevertheless there is this image that people have in their minds when they think of a farmer. One who is strong enough to stack straw, yet gentle enough to wean a newborn calf. One who is patent in hope of a good harvest and always optimistic for good weather. Ever since the beginning of time there has always been farmers. As far back as the great Egyptian Empire there were farmers and truthfully little has changed. Farmers go back as early as our first Parents Adam and Eve when they were removed from the Garden they had to work the land “by the sweat of” their face (Gen. 3:17-19).
It is also the same with this image that we as Christians bear. However it does not mean what it did years ago. It was long before my time but when someone called themselves a Christian in days past it use to mean something. It used to mean that you read your Bibles every day. Today’s Christian don’t seem to know the difference between the Christian Bible and their newspaper. At one time it used to mean your day began on your knees before God but now it means if your not up to date with whatever is going on in Hollywood your considered culturally abnormal. Christianity use to mean that you were in the business of advancing the Gospel not the business of having the latest technology or better Facebook update or twitter update and my question for you this evening is have we compromised what it means to be a Christian for something that is really just an image of ourselves?
What makes my Dad a farmer is not that he goes to farm shows or hangs out at farm meetings at a local church like some club. It is equally true that he is not a farmer if he talks like a farmer and talks tractor. That makes him no more a farmer than someone who just really likes farming as an obsession. My Dad is a farmer because he gets up at 5:00 in the morning every day to do what farmers do. It is his doing that fulfills the image of being a farmer. If my Dad’s master who is on earth demands his time at 5 in the morning should our heavenly master not demand from us our attention earlier in the morning?
Christianity we think if we go to church and join this club that will satisfy what it means to bear this image of a Christian. The image of a Christian is the greatest honor to have, a slave to Christ, a title I believe we must strive as Paul writes to have said of ourselves, “well done good and faithful servant (Matt. 25:23).”