Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Parable of the Sower: Why We Should Have Crap in Our Lives

Jesus is talking to a bunch of people, and he starts to tell a story.

“There is a farmer, and it is time to plant, so this farmer takes up his seed and starts to throw it about. As he is doing this, some of it falls on the path, and is trampled or eaten by birds. Some fell on rocky soil, and it grew, but withered and died because its roots took in no water. Some sees fell amongst the weeds, and it grew up, but was choked by the weeds and died. Lastly, some fell on good soil and it grew and its yield was a hundred times what was sown.”

Now Jesus’ closest friends asked him what he was talking about. And he told them they were the only ones he could explain it to, but for the crowds he spoke in parables to fulfill a prophecy. So this is how Jesus explained the parable to his disciples.

“The seed is God’s word, the Scriptures and myself. The gospel, if you will. The seed which fell on the path are those who hear the gospel, and the devil comes and takes it from their hearts so they can’t believe and be saved. The seed which fell on rocky soil are the ones who rejoice when they hear the gospel, but they don’t take root. When trials and tests come, they fall away. The seed which fell amongst the weeds are those who hear, but as life happens they are choked by worry, riches, and luxury, and they never mature. The seed which falls on good soil are those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain, and by perseverance produce a crop.”

So that is the gist of what Jesus said, but I think since most of us are not farmers in first century Israel, it loses something: cultural context.

The seed: It is still the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. That part won’t change, we know God’s word to be unchanging and eternal.

The seed which falls on the path: This also stays pretty similar, these are the people whom the devil attacks, convincing them to reject the truth.

The seed which falls on rocky soil: This, perhaps, looks a little different today than 2,000 years ago. Jesus’ time did not have all the technology and science we have today. Modern medicine makes it easy to misplace our faith; we trust doctors over the Great Physician. Divorce law has made it much too easy to end a marriage. God is not in our culture to the degree he would have been with the Jews or even in America 100 years ago. The message is still the same, these are the fickle people who accept the gospel because they think it will make life easier, and when life still gets hard, they run.

The seed which falls amongst the weeds: This is probably the most common, at least in America. Though we are in the midst of economic turmoil, we are still one of the wealthiest nations. If 1 in 5 of our citizens struggle with hunger or homelessness, that leaves 80% well fed with a safe place to call home. We are worriers; we worry about the future: how we can get more money, how we can get a better education, how we can get a career to provide out future family with stability and wealth. Even on welfare, Americans are richer than most of the world. And with so much wealth and luxury, we forget to love people, and to serve, and live sacrificially. Our culture tells us, “Look out for number one.” That is not inherently a bad saying, as long as we know that “number one” ought to be (and is regardless) God. We should be looking out for God’s interests, not our own. Our culture breeds selfishness, greed, and independence as virtues when we ought to be selfless, generous and totally reliant on God. It is so hard to embrace the teachings of Christ when money whispers lies in our ears. It tell us, “I am what is important. You can’t help people if you don’t have me. God wants you to be happy, and only I can make you happy.”  Well, those lies are from satan, and we ought to know by now only God can make us truly happy.

The seeds which fall on good soil: This is what we should all want to be. This is fruitful Christianity. Something I have realized about good soil, though, is that it is fertilized. Yes, God wants us to be seeds in good soil. Our lives have to be dirty and full of crap (in the literal sense of the word) in order to produce that fruit which God is so pleased with. So there cannot be rocks or weeds in our soil. We cannot let trials turn us from God, and we certainly cannot let worrying about life keep us from maturing in Christ. God will provide. When the trials come, God is enough. When it seems like you don’t have enough money, God is enough. We need to remind ourselves constantly, God is enough; he will provide. Then we will produce an abundance of spiritual fruit, and God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”