Posted by: eightweleve | November 2, 2009

on difficult Kingdom realities

“Jesus told many stories such as this one:“A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plants sprang up quickly, but they soon wilted beneath the hot sun and died because the roots had no nourishment in the shallow soil. Other seeds fell among thorns that shot up and choked out the tender blades. But some seeds fell on fertile soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!…Now here is the explanation of the story I told about the farmer sowing grain: The seed that fell on the hard path represents those who hear the Good News about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches the seed away from their hearts. The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don’t go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced. The good soil represents the hearts of those who truly accept God’s message and produce a huge harvest – thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted.” | Matthew 13:2-9, 18-23

I came across this parable again a few mornings ago. It always seems easy to understand, but so difficult to accept. When you have ‘grown up responsibilities’ (wife, child, full time job, etc) you don’t a lot of spare time to just sit and think. You have to pick your spots. I suppose what I have been chewing on since then is just the way Jesus describes His Kingdom; in such black and white realities. Though there appears to be a lot of mystery in following Jesus, there isn’t much wiggle room in what He said in the Bible. He used a lot of ‘either you’re in, or you’re out’ statements – which, of course, coming from Him, are always True…much like this parable.

He describes the hearts of men as soil. When the Good News of the Kingdom is sown, it either takes real root, or it doesn’t. End of story. Sometimes it appears to take root at first, but time reveals that the soil wasn’t ‘true’. I suppose this ‘true in appearance, yet ultimately un-true in reality’ soil has been what I have been thinking about these last few days. I just wish it wasn’t true. I wish that all who decided to receive the Word were good soil. I mean, if you really receive it, then it should take real root – shouldn’t it? I have had friends in recent years who might be of this sort. I say ‘might be’, because I hope that they are really good soil, who perhaps is just going through a rough stretch. I am going to love these friends regardless. I am not the one to determine the genuine-ness of their hearts. I can only look at the fruit of their lives (another difficult parable for another day). And that fruit doesn’t look too good. Actually, there is no Kingdom fruit at all (in this season?).

I know that I am treading close to a pretty large theological issue, but let’s not go there. Let’s just look at what Jesus said. He said that either the Gospel takes real, deep root in your life – or it doesn’t. And I look at the lives of these friends and wonder what makes me different than them? I know that I am entirely capable of the very same non-Kingdom things as them. I am every bit as susceptible as they are; every bit as able to make the choices they are making. But somehow I just don’t. And I promise, it is no credit of my own. I haven’t just figured it out better than them. I haven’t just wanted it more (maybe). It is exclusively the work of Him in my life. He is holding onto me. And I have absolutely no idea why it is me over them. I am sure that He doesn’t just love me more. The Father is crazy about all of His children. We are all His favorites. But for some reason, I am good soil – and they appear not to be. And it makes no sense. None whatsoever. And that is difficult to understand. I learned a long time ago how futile it is to ask God ‘why?’. You just have to trust that He is good and knows what He is doing…working all things for the good of those who He calls to His Purpose.

More than anything, I am humbled really. Humbled that He wants me; that He loves me and has role for me in His Purpose…and nothing can snatch me out of His hand – for the Gospel has taken deep root in my heart.

Thank you Jesus.

 

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