In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Jesus tells a story about a farmer planting a field. The condition of the soil has much to do with it's fertility. The hard packed path will not allow penetration of the seed. The rocky areas of the field have shallow soil where the seed will try to root, but it has no moisture or depth to nourish the seedling. Then there is that part of the field where the thorn and weed seed competes with the wheat seed. The weeds inevitably chokes out the wheat as it tries to grow. And finally there is the good soil that that is ready for planting, receptive to farming and will produce a bumper crop.
In the context of the parable, the field is the world, the seed is the good news and the condition of the different types of soil represent the hearts of the people of the world and their receptivity to the spread of the gospel - the coming of the Kingdom of God.
I was thinking about this parable in the context of the Church. Even though Jesus intended the field to represent the world, what if we applied this story to the Church, God's Kingdom on earth?
The heart conditions of the people in God's Church is very diverse. When we come into to it, we all start in one of these "soil" categories or maybe we even experience all of them. In time though, our "fields" get worked, get conditioned by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The soil of our hearts becomes more verdant, more useful to His Kingdom. And because He is an excellent farmer, He is able to take even the poorest field and make it grow something useful.
When I think about this in the context of my personal life, I find I have been hardhearted and judgmental. I have been angry with God and with His people. My heart has also been choked with the weeds of personal life issues and career. Both of these worked to keep me from becoming the fertile field that I could have been. Now, here at the end I am figuring this all out. I'm thinking God may yet leave a fertile field behind that was once the desert of my life. His grace and His love has been poured out on me with a good stiff, draught of the Truth mixed in. My field is now the work of His hand. He has reclaimed me from my desolation. It makes me so happy, I just want to cry. This from a man that would not bust any emotion but anger 30 years ago! He has made me feel again. I have to say that while this kind of ticks me off, I do understand other people much better than I used to. At the same time it has left me vulnerable and a bit weaker. The discipline slips, but the grace and the love begin to flow.
What He has done for me is nothing short of a miracle from my point of view.
The sanctification process is much like the process of cleaning up a field for farming. The fact is that dirt is dirt. It's only what's mixed in with it that determines its fertility. Clean it up and it's ready to go. The concept of cleaning up dirt might seem foreign to city dwellers, but it can be done. I am proof of that.
So the next time you are at church and you meet somebody that seems kind of weird, well...maybe they are in the process of having their field cleaned. You might consider coming alongside them to help the Lord with that process. I have found that it goes much faster with help and thanks to all who do that for me.
I am still finding the occasional weed or hard clot, but at least I recognize them when I see them now.
How's your field?