Sunday, February 20, 2011

Soil Testing 101

The Word for Today: Luke 8:4-21

The Parable of the Sower/Soils is "the" parable.
It is not as beloved as the Good Samaritan.
It is not as cherished as the Prodigal Son.
But it is perhaps the most important of all the parables that Jesus told.
While nearly all the other parables cover a certain aspect or portion of faith (e.g. forgiveness, readiness, grace, love, money, prayer, etc.), this parable covers the even more fundamental issue of whether or not we receive the Gospel message to begin with.

Furthermore, we are blessed not only with three accounts of this parable(1), but also the interpretation straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ. We may err in some of our interpreting of other parables, but here its impossible because our Lord has already given us the correct answer. He uses this particular parable to explain to us why he used parables to begin with.

We know, from Jesus Himself, that the seed is the Word of God, scattered for all to hear. The rest of the parable describes four different types of soil and how they respond to the seed. Let me introduce you to them, with a bit of personification:
Mr. Pathy: His heart soil is too compacted to even receive the Word.
Mr. Rocky: His heart soil is too shallow for anything real to grow.
Mr. Thorny: His heart soil is too crowded for any healthy growth.
Mr. Goodly: Is the only one who has the depth and space to grow.

Every single person who has ever heard the message of Jesus Christ can be described in one of these four camps.

Which soil are you?
Have you found yourself to be in different camps in you own history?
(For a real challenge, try figuring out which of the 4 camps are "saved." I wouldn't feel so secure for Rocky or even Thorny.)

But before we congratulate ourselves for not being Pathy or Rocky or Thorny and moving on from this parable, let me ask you one question: How's your heart? I mean right now.
Certainly, these types of soil can speak concerning one's salvation, but I believe that they speak to every believer, each day. How's my heart, how's my soil right now? Just because it was good for a season does not mean that hardness or shallowness or thorns will never again be an issue for me.

Every day, I can choose to be in any one of these camps. I can become callous towards the things of God. I can start off well, but quickly lose my focus and passion. I can certainly allow all the stuff of life to put a stranglehold on anything that really matters with God. Or today, I can choose to "humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (2)."

The truth is, not one of us has "graduated" past this parable to where it no longer applies to us. Not one of us has got this thing down, or reached a place where we no longer need to listen. So I urge all of us to follow the words of Jesus: "He who has hears to hear, let him hear!"

(1) Here, and in Matthew 13:1-23 and Mark 4:1-20
(2) James 1:21

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