Growing up on a farm and living in an agriculture-centered community, I know the importance of ample sunshine, replenishing rainfall, and good soil conditions. In Jesus’ time, most people were farmers by trade and easily connected with His parable about sowing seeds. Though you and I buy most of our groceries at the supermarket instead of growing food at home, Jesus’ lesson is still applicable.
A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold. Luke 8:5-8 (New Revised Standard Version)
I shamefully admit that I have had, at one time or another, all four soil conditions Jesus spoke of. On the first day of 2015, I began a personal challenge to read the entire Bible in one year. I use a specific reading guide and it includes convenient boxes to check when I am done with each day’s passage. I am diligent about reading God’s Word every day, but there are some books, chapters, and passages that are a real chore. While in the Book of Leviticus, I got to a particular spot that did not pique my interest so I quickly scanned the text just to mark the box on my reading guide. The seed was planted, scattered and forgotten, but I was not interested in the message. Unfortunately for me, I starved while the birds ate really well that day.
If you are a wife or mother, I am sure your spouse or child has experienced the symptoms of selective hearing? They hear what they want and ignore the rest. Can I get an amen? When Jesus spoke of rocky soil, I think He was talking about selective hearing. Young (new) Christians are often susceptible to rocky conditions because they focus on their mountaintop experience and forget to prepare for life’s valleys and storms. They do not have a strong foundation to withstand evil forces. More mature Christians experience rocky situations too. I am guilty of having selective hearing. Several weeks ago, during Pastor Dale’s sermon, I was so busy trying to wrangle Kamden, my toddler son, and keep him quiet that I completely ignored the message. I heard Dale speaking but I was not listening. Later that week, Dale asked me for feedback on his sermon but I did not have a response – talk about embarrassing. The next Sunday, Kamden enjoyed a toddler-friendly lesson in the Children’s Center with Bible stories and interactive games while I was in the sanctuary with my ears (and heart) tuned to God’s message. It was a win-win situation!
Two amazing things about weeds are their ability to withstand extreme conditions and immunity against chemicals supposed to eliminate them. Imagine if our faith was as strong as the weed’s will to survive! In the parable of the seed, Jesus describes the thorn as a choking hazard. In other words, thorns are thieves stealing vital nutrients from the soil, thus preventing the seed from growing and thriving. Of the four types of soil in Jesus’ parable, I find myself dwelling in the briar patch far too often. I fall victim to the slippery slope of worry, fear, temptation, jealously, discontentment, and desire for material possessions. I am choked putting God above all while trying to keep up with the Joneses. I know the Word and hear the Word, but I do not always live the Word.
Thanks be to God, good soil makes all the difference … for seeds and our faith journey! As Christians, if we want to grow our faith – to be fruitful in God’s kingdom – we must be planted in fertile soil. What does that mean? We have to dwell in an environment that prioritizes our spiritual health. Christians must live in a community of believers that worships, fellowships, and studies, as well as provides accountability and encouragement. We must assess our priorities and fertilize areas in which we need extra help or support. God created us to be in relationship with Him and one another; we need each other to be healthy and fruitful. Jesus is the light of the world; allow the Son to shine and you will bloom!