02 September 2007

Today's Message - Parable of the Sower, That Crazy Farmer

The Stage

According to Matthew, Jesus had been recently teaching in a synagogue and although we’re not sure how, he ended up at someone’s house. While there his Mother and Brothers came to see him, but apparently could get in the house due to the crowd (Luke 8 and Mark 3).

Jesus answer, in saying, “Who are my Mother and Brothers?” is a profound and dangerous statement. One of the most vital cultural identifiers of the Jewish people is heritage and this is true even today. Knowing and identifying with Jewish history is what proves one is a Jew and therefore has a unique covenant with God. By Jesus ‘dismissing’ his family he drives home the point that the spirit is indeed thicker than blood. This statement flew in the face of culture and I’m sure was part of the incentive for the crowd to follow him.

In Matthew 13 Jesus had gone outside to sit by the lake (why did he go outside?), and a crowd had gathered so he took that as an opportunity to tell a parable of the Kingdom of God. This is the first (and arguably) the most well known parable that Jesus ever told.
(Why did Jesus start speaking in parables at this time?)

The Story
This parable, like most of them, have a sense of connection with the people. They understood fishing, farming, agriculture, and money. But they also had a sense of absurdity. We get the picture of a farmer carelessly scattering seed and letting it fall wherever it may. Of course a real farmer would concentrate on the plowed ground in which he had prepared for planting and future harvesting. (Why this sense of absurdity?)

When meditating on this parable, (which can be hard to do because it’s so well known and well read) I tried to look at what Jesus was getting to the heart of. This is why his parables were so amazing to begin with; they drew people in, without complete understanding. They created a desire within to know more - to open hearts. (Read the explanation of this parable in The Message).
(Why did Jesus explain this parable to his disciples?)

So although this is not exhaustive, and certainly not conclusive, this is what I sense God is revealing in this parable, in this time, to us.

I asked myself this question: If the first three types of ground were symbols of what drew people away from the Kingdom, what do we, as broken fallen beautiful becomings do to draw to the Kingdom?

The Solution

1. What keeps us away from evil? Intimacy with God.

The presence of God. Which begs us to question; in what way do you (and we as a community) connect with God? How do we prevent rocky hearts, and move continually toward deep relationship with The One? Revisit the message on “Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water.”

2. What keeps us from only chasing after our emotions? Trueness of God.

Our emotions are real, wonderful, and messy. God is an emotional being. But if our joy...or sorrow... is confused with the character of God, we will eventually either run dry, or chase after each emotional high in an attempt to get our fill that will hopefully last us till the next euphoric moment. Since life inevitably sucks sometimes, anger, bitterness, or burnout, could be our end. Sometimes in the darkness, is when God is the most bright. He is mysteriously present in His absence. Mother Theresa I believe knew this. If it’s true that she didn’t ‘feel God’ in the latter stages of her life, if she was simply shallow soil, she would have retired. But she knew God, and continued the remarkable work that is still being felt today. If Jesus purely went on emotion, then he probably would have called down a legion of angels to defend him when he was arrested in Gethsemane. We’ll talk more about ‘what is truth?’ (a question Pilot asked) at a later time.

3. What keeps us from falling into consumerism, and the cares of the world? Trust in God.

This on a cultural level (the other two are more personal) is our biggest challenge of today. The American soil (and all Western soil) is filled with the weeds of greed. Our history is Christian culture and not Christ called. And today, we are beginning to pay the price as the weeds choke out more and more of those concerned with living the good life. 30 years ago the number one reason people went to college is to make a difference. Today it’s to make money. We have become a corporate entity more than we have become a radical subversive movement of Jesus lovers. It’s not that the ‘stuff’ is wrong, but that we try and make the ‘stuff’ try to live in parallel with the Lordship of Jesus. We have made our ‘stuff’ lord; which is the very thing that Jesus warned us about - that we cannot serve both God and money. This paradox cannot live in parallel. We must choose. It is not false God’s, evil empires, or a political party that is the greatest threat to Christianity today in Western Civilization, it is consumerism, because it can sneak into everything we do and still look good - still have a ‘form of godliness.’

Most of my life, I’ve lived on the edge. Makeesha lived the same way, so we were a natural/supernatural fit. Then kids came, a good job came, and we settled in (so to speak). Suddenly I began thinking, “This isn’t bad. I could work here, live here, and be comfortable.” Now I would argue that not all of us are called to live as Makeesha and I do, but none of us are called to be comfortable. We are all beckoned by God to live in a way that we trust him. If we don’t, complacency and consumerism are the viruses of our faith.

So God, began to prompt me and remind me of the way I used to live. And through a process of prayer, repentance, revelation, and circumstances (that my income was cut and things were not as comfortable as they used to be) God began to purge the weeds from my life. I know some (maybe many) are still hidden, but the first key is not that we remove them, but that we see them in the first place. Far too often the weed looks like wheat until we look closer and realize there is no fruit.
What do we do then to rid the weeds? We ask the question, “Lord, what is mine, that should be yours.” Let us not be so arrogant in assuming that our riches (and we are all rich in America) is for us. Let us not be so self centered that we don’t even ask, “God, what do I do with all this stuff?” Let us not confuse the American Dream with the Call of Christ.

The Simplicity

So what does all this boil down to? One thing: The holistic revelation that Jesus is Lord. This is the good soil-

Jesus is Lord.

Let us now, silently reflect on this. Let’s have a time outside in worship and ask the question that David did, “Lord is their anything hidden from me that is keeping all of me from all of you?” Let us be on our way to good soil. In Intimacy, Trueness, and Trust, let us move forward with a greater holistic understanding of the Lordship of our Redeemer.

1 comment:

paul said...

very profound my friend, sometimes it is the hardest to see the seed from the weed - thank you.

The other thing that strikes me is the sheer generousity/abundance of the farmer - sowing everywhere and contrasting with our pragmatism/cynicism - your wasting your time sowing there. Reminds me of the disciples lil fishing trip when they cast their nets over the other side on the advice of some know it all shore stander :)