Thursday- Day 8
Mark 4:1-9 (Comments on Lent for Everyone by N.T. Wright)
The parable of the sower is one of the more well known of stories in Christian circles. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God can be compared to a sower who goes out and sows seed. Much of the seed falls on unproductive soil where it does not produce any harvest or fruit. Some of the seed does on good soil where it produces good soil where it produces a wonderful return of thirty, sixty, even a hundredfold. The fulfillment of God’s kingdom is upon the people. We witness that kingdom being made visible through the ministry and sacrifice of Christ. But as Wright points out, just because God’s kingdom is at hand doesn’t mean that it will be readily received by God’s people. This parable has a note of judgment ringing through it. The Jews who heard this story would expect to be the good soil while the outsiders, sinners, and Gentiles are the one who reject God’s will and plans. But when we consider other passages of scripture, we witness that Jesus’ criticism is often reserved for Jewish religious authorities, not Gentiles. The Jews could not imagine that when Jesus spoke about the seed falling among thorns that end up choking the seed that he might be referring to them.
Jumping ahead to the 21st century, I believe that there are a fair number of American Christians who still believe that the United States is the center of Christianity today. The fact is that while the growth of Christianity continues to wane and decline in Europe and the United States, Christianity is flourishing in Africa and parts of Asia. God is going to find a way to bring forth the harvest and if it isn’t here, then God will take His plans elsewhere. We might ask ourselves how is our society influencing the church in its proclamation and its living out the good news.? Is consumerism and materialism across our land choking out God’s Word and making it irrelevant? Have we become so accustomed and cozy in our church buildings that we have lost the fire of the movement of God’s kingdom? I realize that numerical growth alone is not indicative of whether we are being faithful to God’s mission. But I really believe we have lost spiritual vitality and aliveness, because we are so concerned about our own survival that we forgotten our calling to be Christ’s seeds of love in the world. This season of Lent calls us once again to ask ourselves how we can be open to the movement of God’s kingdom. What are those things we need to put aside so that we can give priority to the desires and purposes of God?