We have been summoned to “Come” to Jesus, to repent of our sins, to ask Jesus into our hearts, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, words, and actions. We have been called to “Go” into the world sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Most of us understand the “Come” part of God’s call upon our lives but the “Go” part is a huge obstacle for us. We get caught up in our expectations; our agenda. We get caught up because we anticipate everyone else to readily accept that “Jesus loves you no matter what” and that “God has a plan and purpose for our lives.”
As we contemplate the “Come” and the “Go” there’s a middle step that we skip over. We too often fail to negotiate the “Follow” part of Jesus’ summons to be His disciples. If we are to be Christ’s ambassadors in the world it would be good if we paid more careful attention to what it means to “Follow.” We think that agreeing to “Come” covers the complete process of becoming a “follower” of Christ.
I suggest that we pause to refresh out souls by taking a refresher course in the Parable of the Soils and the interpretation of it found in Matthew 13:1-9,18-23, Mark 4:1-9, 13-20, and Luke 8:4-8, 11-15.
These soil descriptions are situations that, when we witness to others, we will find as characteristics they display. The soil that is firmly packed should remind us of a stubborn, firmly decided attitude individual. Well now, aren’t we that way ourselves. Things in our lives (and the church) should be done certain ways because that’s the way we think they should be done. Change—ugh, what an awful thought.
The rocky places of the heart and mind remind us that there are times when people are too easily swayed to a change of opinion. Disruptive thoughts seep into our actions. i.e. Everybody else is doing it so I’ll give it a try this one time. What I do won’t hurt anyone else. We too often become so quick to notice this course of action in others and fail to pay attention to notice when it detours our Christian journey.
The description of the thorns tells us that these objects choke out God’s word and draws our attention to the satisfaction of personal desires. We begin believing that we are number one and entitled to receive complete happiness regardless of whom we trample in the pursuit. Focus shifts from God-centered to self-centered and earthly treasures begin to pile up around us as we sink further and further into a material rather than spiritual world.
The “good soil” is teachable. The “good soil” spends time listening for the voice of God in its life. The “good soil” spends time in intercessory prayer for others. The “good soil” spends time in prayer for discernment of God’s will for its life. The “good soil” spends time reading and studying God’s word. The “good soil” spends time injecting the teachings of Jesus into its life.
Your expectation of those to whom you witness is that they possess “good soil.” What about your soil? Is there work to be done in the garden of your heart? Let the Master Gardener spend time in your soil so you’re better prepared to “Go into the world sharing the Gospel of Christ Jesus.”
The writer is the the chaplain at Ohio Living Dorothy Love and does pastoral care at Sidney First United Methodist Church.