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Sep 04

GOOD SEED; GOOD SOIL

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I love living in a farming community. Each spring we watch the farmers plant crops. We watch expectantly as tiny green shoots bud and grow in rows, reaching for the sun. We guess what each crop might be, sometimes “Googling” visual characteristics of plants in hopes of discovering what they may grow up to be.

Living in a farming community has also brought new meaning to Jesus’ parable of the sower and how it relates to me as a Christian, wanting to introduce His message to others.

 

“A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.  Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown . Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9 NIV)

 

In Matthew 13 (and Mark 4 and Luke 8) some seed (the message of the kingdom) falls on the hard ground of the path where it is trampled. Some seed falls on the rocky soil where people believe but then fall away. Some seed falls on thorny ground where worries of life destroy the person’s faith. Other seed falls on good soil where the person believes and lives a life that produces a healthy crop.

The good seed is always good. The good seed never changes; it is never different.

What is different is each person’s willingness to listen, understand and believe the truth of the kingdom that Jesus offers. People are the soil.

As Christians, we often talk about going out into the world to sow the good seed. We claim it is our job to just keep sowing and leave the results to Jesus.

That is true.

But living in a farming community has shown me that the farmer also has to prepare the soil.

Our responsibility is not just to sow seed. It is also to help prepare the soil. Maybe Jane rakes the top layer of hard packed dirt with an act of kindness. Edward picks up a rock to help clear the soil with a word of encouragement. Susan pulls out a thorny weed by listening to someone with compassion. Umberto, Sarah and others rake, pick, pull and till the soil until that formerly trodden, rocky, weedy ground has become good soil ready to receive the good seed.

Salvation for other people is never up to us humans. Salvation is always and ever only offered by Jesus. But as workers in the harvest, we not only can sow the message of the kingdom of God; we can also help prepare the soil for people to receive the message. We do that by what we say and do; how we live our lives, often without every speaking a word of the Gospel.

For introverts or folks who feel incapable of adequately sharing Jesus’ message verbally, knowing they can participate in the harvest by helping prepare the soil should be a huge encouragement. It is for me.

A healthy crop requires good seed. It also requires good soil. Then it must be watered and provided light. Jesus—the living water—also shines even in the darkness.

I love living in a farming community.

 

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