In Ireland, they take longer over the weather forecast, and even include the statistics for grass growth over the last month in different areas! Perhaps it is not surprising, given that agriculture is a rather more serious concern for the average person there than in the UK.
It may be that as we read Matthew’s account of the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23 – leaving out v10-17), we are brought up against what we are serious about. It is meant to be an encouragement (like the rest of the chapter, all about the Kingdom of God). Reading carefully, we may learn what is beyond our control (and not worth worrying about), and what is going on (to help if possible, and beware the dangers for ourselves).
Jesus knows that when the message of God’s Kingdom is sown (which applied to his ministry, and still to ours today) it is a call to loyalty, obedience and action. The reaction to that call varies:
- there are hard places, like the path which will be ploughed after sowing, but loses seed to birds. Some people just want to know, they have their own agenda, know what they want – and it doesn’t include God. For anything to grow there, it will have to be tucked into a gap made by the Holy Spirit.
- The rocky ground is just shallow. There is no problem getting a reaction here, but it is liable to pass on to the next enthusiasm, and the next. If this ground can be cultivated (sometimes it can’t), honesty is needed. To live the Christian life is the best thing you can do – but it will be hard at times. More than ever you need other believers to watch out for you, pray for you, and need you to help them too.
- The seed is never sown in sterile compost! We all come with weeds – past hopes, habits and hang-ups. To get through these, not only do we need honesty, but also to know the worth of God, and the temporary nature of so much that seems to tempt or threaten.
This parable may be very familiar to you, but I suggest it may reveal how serious we are about sowing God’s Kingdom, and living it. Don’t be surprised or upset that some sowing of the Kingdom fails to grow – it doesn’t mean the seed is bad, or the sower useless. Understand the problems, if that will help. But above all realise that sowing will produce a harvest, a good and significant one. Jesus’ disciples needed to know that when his ministry hit opposition – and they still do.