Dear Christ Church Family,
Have you ever wondered why some people aren’t the way they ought to be? In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower today, it might seem like he is answering that question. But watch out, he’s actually answering a deeper question about you and me.
Monday, May 18, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
AM Psalm 80
Matthew 13: The “Soils” within us. This parable of Jesus is most often referred to as the Parable of the Sower. That is the case, of course, because Jesus is the Sower of the seed of good news and life. But I have often wondered if maybe the title should have been The Parable of the Soils. After all, it is the “soils” that get all the explanation in this story.
The usual approach to understanding this parable, at least in most of the sermons I have ever heard on it (and there have been a lot I’ve heard, and even given), is to explain the four types of soil as types of people. Then to offer the admonition to not be like the first three types, and then finish the sermon with the charge to be more like the fourth type. One thing that has happened on occasion with hearing this story, though, for me at least, has been to end up congratulating myself for being a (mostly) type four, and to then have piously prayed for some type ones I have known.
Somehow, though, I don’t think that this response is what Jesus has intended for his listeners. If we’re really honest in listening to this parable, we can recognize that all four types of “soil” exist in us simultaneously. That’s because these are not certain persons of whom we know, these are certain traits of which we each possess. And, truthfully, any one of these traits can be primarily who we are at any given time.
So, here is the approach to this passage that I use now, whenever I consider applying this parable’s meaning to my life. I ask, “How and where in my life am I being like this?”
Type One: The Impervious Person Trait. How and where in my life am I being impervious to what God would have me change? How and where in my life am I being impervious to caring about someone else?
Type Two: The Shallow Person Trait. How and where in my life am I just giving God lip service and easy promises? How and where in my life am I doing that with others?
Type Three: The Worried Person Trait. How and where in my life am I allowing all the cares and things of life to keep me from having the courage to go after what God wants for my life? How and where am I allowing stuff to keep me from loving others as God would have me love?
Type Four: The Open-to-Life Person Trait. How and how often am I thanking God for God’s faithfulness in keeping the Good Seed coming to feed my soil? How and how often am I sharing this part of my life with others?
You might ask the question in a different way than I have framed it here. But do frame it in the way that lets you ask it of yourself. And when you find that one of the first three types of soil is your preeminent self in a given moment, ask God for help to become more like the fourth. This is a prayer that God will love to answer. A prayer like this will always be answered with a “yes!”