If your reading Mark with me this Summer, well done, we're now 1/4 of the way through this amazing story. We've been introduced to John and Jesus, we've seen how Jesus challenges the way we think about our world and we've looked at the three key perspectives of Up, In and Out.
The two key questions in being a disciple, or apprentice, of Jesus are: What is God saying to you? What are you doing about what God is saying to you?
In Chapter four we've come to one of Jesus' best know parables, or stories, the parable of the Sower. Perhaps this should better be called the parable of the Seed, or perhaps the parable of the Soil. So we're thinking about the Sower, the Seed and the Soil.
Who is the Sower? God I hear you cry! Read the passage again – we're not told who the sower is. Yes God does sow into our lives and the lives of everyone in his world, but he isn't the only sower, he also calls us to sow his seed into the lives of others.
What seed have you sown in the past week, and whose lives has it been sown?
What is the seed? This one's easier as the passage tells us – the seed is the word of God. Each and every day God is sowing his seed into our lives. What does that mean – it means each and every day God is speaking to us. He speaks through this Bible, he speaks through other people, he speaks through nature, he speaks through our circumstances and situations and he speaks through his 'still small voice.' The big question is: are we listening?
What has God been speaking to you about in the past week?
Final question: What kind of soil are you? There are four options.
Option one: totally unreceptive. As soon as the seed is sown it is stolen away. I would suggest if you are reading this blog then your not this kind of soil, so let's move on.
Option two: rocky & rootless. Perhaps we may be in this category. When we hear God speaking we think great, that sounds good. Maybe on a Sunday, or in a small group, you hear God speaking and your response is one of joy. But you walk out of the church building and return home and the realities of a challenging life reassert themselves and God is forgotten, the joy is gone and normal life is resumed. If that's you then there is some work to do in tilling the soil, getting rid of the rocks and creating a lifestyle that allows God's word to take root. Reading the Bible every day, for instance, is part of that lifestyle.
Option three: a thorny world view. The Sunday sermon that you think is great, but by the time you get to the car your thoughts are on whether lunch will be ready in time and the sermon is forgotten. You read the Bible's radical teaching on wealth and generosity but still keep your wealth for yourself. You enjoy playing football, cricket, rugby or whatever your sport is, and your team plays on a Sunday morning so you put your enjoyment of sport before meeting up with your Christian family. There are so many things today that will distract, divert and subtly or blatantly drag us away from God and his word. The only way to avoid this is to pull up the thorns, and you may have noticed, thorns have thorns, so pulling them up will be painful.
Option four: good soil. This is the best, the soil has been turned over and the stones removed. The thorns have been dealt with and they are also gone. This soil is open and receptive to God's word. Not only do these people hear what God is saying, they do something about it. And the result? A good crop that multiples the seed that was planted to produce it. The sign of good soil – a good crop. If the soil is good there WILL be a crop, if there is no crop the the soil isn't good.
Looking back at the last week, month, year: is ther a crop resulting from the seed God has sown in your life? If so celebrate and thank God. If not perhaps we need to look at the condition of the soil.