Do you ever wonder why some people receive Jesus and others don’t’?
Part of me wants to just shake them and yell, “JESUS IS THE BEST THING THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN TO YOU!”
Obviously, not the best way to evangelize.
Still, for me, it’s a lot like how I felt after having my first baby. Talk about love like you’ve never known. Mind blown. I wanted everyone to experience it. It’s been the same with me for Jesus. I want everyone I love to experience a relationship with him.
I know, I know… we make horrible holy spirits, and thank goodness God is in control. My way of convicting definitely wouldn’t win over a lot of hearts.
The way God moves and convicts hearts is absolutely a beautiful mystery to me. It’s frustrating when I don’t see him convicting hearts that I’m praying will change, but that’s where faith comes in, isn’t it?
I’ve talked about the mysteries God reveals to us in the bible. I remember the day vividly and the excitement my daughters shared when scripture made sense in a way it hadn’t before. Like God was talking directly to them through the Word.
Why don't they believe?
Thinking about why someone does or doesn’t accept Jesus is a tough one for many of us.
I want to believe God is this all-encompassing, all inclusive, no one gets left behind, and everyone’s welcome in heaven kind of God. But He’s not.
I know His Word. I watched the Passion. I got a glimpse into the sacrifice it took and the immense, unfathomable suffering. A sacrifice that warrants our whole heart, our belief.
A gift we can’t really wrap our brains around.
There’s something about the Parable of the Sower that makes sense to me when I wonder about why folks do or don’t receive God’s Word. It also reminds me of the role or part we play.
In Beautifully Broken, I talked about being on rocky soil a time or two myself. I don’t find it a coincidence one bit that I love that photo of one simple flower growing through concrete. There’s something super sweet between me and God and His long-suffering.
My hardheadedness. It certainly felt like growing through concrete at times. I’m sure for both of us.
I experienced the emotional “mountaintop” at church camp in 7th grade when I got saved. That’s what we called it in the Baptist church. Some call it being born again or simply giving your heart to Jesus.
Anyway, I was on cloud nine at camp, but my excitement fizzled out quickly when I got home. Sadly, so did my interest in Jesus.
Later, anything I heard about Jesus seemed to get choked out by all the things. Worldly worries or pleasures. Would I hit my quota at work this month? Did I have time to work out with my trainer? Did my Mercedes impress him? What did I have to do to make the girls on the PTA Board happy?
Ughhhh… Y’ALL, it hurts my heart just thinking about it.
How about your heart? How has it received (or not received) Jesus? Do you find yourself hardened, distracted, maybe?
The Soil is Our Hearts
The Parable of the Sower is in three of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke.) It also happens to be the first parable Jesus taught. Something about both of those makes me think it’s a lesson to unpack.
First things first, the Sower. The Sower is one sharing the Word.
The seed is the Word of God. The Truth. The Gospel.
And the soil is our hearts.
In the parable, there are four types of soil. And no, you don't have to be a gardener or have a green thumb to understand what Jesus was saying. Still, it certainly may make you appreciate the story more.
At the time Jesus was on the planet, farmers (sowers) didn’t till the soil. They literally just tossed and scattered seed along the ground. Hoping and praying for a good crop. Regardless, you can bet those listening as Jesus taught from the boat that day knew much about good and bad soil.
Today, you don’t have to go any further than your flowerbed to see the result of tilling the soil, pulling the weeds, removing rocks, and THEN planting. But, of course, watering (i.e., nurturing) the soil makes a big difference in how the flowers turn out. And it's the same for us and our relationship with God, but that's for another blog.
So, the first instance Jesus talks about is when the Sower tosses the seed about on the wayside. My guess is it was somewhat like a walking path or road. A place impossible for something to grow. Birds came immediately and snatched up the seed.
It's like when someone hears about Jesus, or the gospel and nothing happens. Maybe they have a hardened heart or are just indifferent about what they hear. But then, it takes minimal effort for Satan to snatch what they heard, replacing it with doubt or lies.
Next, the Sower tosses the seed onto stony, rocky soil. There’s a small amount of soil, but not enough. It is actually just enough for the seed to sprout, but without deep roots, so it withers and dies in the sunlight.
This could be someone that hears, accepts, and even gets super excited about Jesus. They experience a mountain top and are on fire for a minute. But something happens. They fizzle out. Because their experience was based on emotion and not a relationship, nor true repentance, they end up back where they were. No fruit. No real interest.
In the third scenario, the sower throws the seed on good soil, but there are many weeds. What do weeds do? They choke out anything good. Second, if left unattended, they take over the entire flowerbed.
Jesus compared this soil to being consumed with the worries or pleasures of the world. Our focus is climbing the ladder, our finances, maybe our appearance, or our new relationship. There ends up being little room in our hearts for God and again, our desire dies out.
Last, there's the seed that lands in good soil. You hear a message about Jesus or the Word, and you want to know more. Verses speak to your heart. You’re interested. Hopefully, you decide to find a church that teaches the Bible, maybe even a mentor, who can guide you.
Before you know it, you’re bearing fruit.
Miraculously, you're able to stay calm during a crisis or a storm. You’re a lot kinder to that mean woman at the office. Drinking that third glass of wine doesn’t seem as appealing anymore. You look and act and sound different.
Jesus and His Word have the incredible ability to change us. Really to transform us. Many of us go about years of our lives thinking we're pretty decent humans. Some even feel like their “goodness” will get them into heaven.
The Parable of the Sower can help us understand several things. One, we can sow. We can share Jesus, but that doesn’t mean the other person is ready or going to receive it. Two, we need to be good soil. We may need to pull weeds. There may be rocks to remove. Our hearts need to be soft and open to whatever God has for us. WE need to nurture and feed what’s been planted.
What does that look like for you? What do you need to receive what God has for you? Quiet? Toning down the noise in your life? Rest? Ending the madness of busyness? Time? Counseling?
Whatever it is, do it.
He’s worth it. YOU and your heart are worth it.