I just read a section of a new book, “Organic Church” by Neil Cole, which book has me doing some introspection. He had a very interesting section on the Parable of the Sower, or as some call it “The Parable of the Soils”. I like this second name better as the parable seems to say much more about the soils then the sower.
This Parable can be found in Mark 4 and I am sure many people are familiar with its contents. One thing that I may have forgotten or never realized is the significance Jesus places on this parable “Then Jesus said to his followers, “Don’t you understand this story? If you don’t, how will you understand any story?” perhaps indicating that this parable is foundational to all kingdom understanding, or the simplest of all parables.
It is one of the few parables Jesus takes the time to fully explain to his disciples which, I believe, exhibits the importance of the lesson. I have had experience with all of these types of soil in my life; we probably all have if we have ever sown the word of God. There are those people who appear to be simply a waste of time, the word bounces off of them and doesn’t have time to take root. I have always wondered if this is carelessness on the part of the sower or not, however that would be a discussion for another time.
The second type of soil I saw all too often in my time in youth ministries, they suffer from what I call camp hype syndrome. When there are no distractions, nothing to impede their walk as disciples they are terribly excited. They receive the word with joy as the Lord says, but they do not bear fruit because they have no root and they wither or fall away when persecution, of any kind, comes. I am note sure this speaks to their salvation but their ability to be a disciple and bear fruit; I am not sure they are the same thing.
I would like to skip to the fourth type of soil discussed in the parable, the good soil. These are those who bear fruit in their life, a crop of up to one hundred times that which was sown initially. If the math bears true these people are only one quarter of those who hear the word, which make me feel much better about my ministry record.
The third type of soil concerned me more than a little, as I think it may all too accurately describe me. I don’t mean this to be a grand trip down self deprecation lane as I am really concerned about the fact that I believe I may have been the good soil at one time but I have forgotten to weed. Verse seven says “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain.” And Jesus describes them this way in his explanation “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” It appears that the “plant” of the word is able to grow to some extent because the thorns grow up to choke it out.
My life has gotten in the way of fulfilling my role as a disciple in the Kingdom of God, which I believe may have begun with honest intentions as I pursued a career in ministry. I have a good job, and would be forced to take a drastic pay cut in order to take a ministry career path. I enjoy my privacy, another weed that prevents me from inviting people into my life where I could minster to them. There are so many weeds that prevent me from bearing fruit and reproducing and I am not sure how to best remove them. Does anyone know a good brand of Spiritual Weed-Be-Gone?
I want to be fruitful and make disciples as Jesus commanded, I just don’t know how to do it.