Jesus came to earth not to just save us and get us to heaven. He came to establish his kingdom, a concept that dwarfs our discounted notions of God’s intent. How does he plan to accomplish this? Much like a farmer, If we are to listen to Jesus. The Father casts Jesus into the earth as the Seed of a new race of men. In this Seed is God’s Life. Where it takes root, the Life of God is birthed, men are transformed into his likeness and the kingdom grows, returning to God a harvest, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.
Our passage is disturbing though because the Seed is clearly at risk. The exposure is from within and without. The exposure from without comes from Satan, the enemy of God’s Life.
The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. Mark 4:14-15 NAS
There is but one place the Seed will grow – that is the human heart. Our hearts are the soil types in this story. This is where God’s Seed is exposed from within. Jesus tells us that some have no firm root in themselves. This soil type will even produce some initial joy, being in proximity to God’s Life, but affliction and persecution (related to it) prevents germination from happening fully. There is a sprout but it dries up and blows away. There is another heart-soil where the Seed cannot germinate. These hearts…
have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:18-20
Is there a greater mystery than a seed, a tiny little thing, as small as a mustard seed, which in the right conditions, grows and produces a potential return of three up to ten thousand percent? The kingdom of God is a great mystery.
It is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows-how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. Mark 4:27-29 NAS
And what is our part in this mystery? Does the Farmer just stab these seeds down into the soil where it grows by sheer force of his will? No. Amazingly, his sovereignty somehow involves men.
And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides. For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” Mark 4:24-25 NAS
Traditional, miniaturized versions of God’s intentions, cast the laborers of the harvest as special called-ones who become evangelists or pastors, paid to labor for the harvest. They are often credentialed and then sent off somewhere. I don’t believe this is invalid, only radically incomplete. And, in its incompleteness, it is devastating to the harvest. Every believer in Christ has God’s Seed in Him. It is all about that Seed. It is when this Seed grows, geographically, right where it is planted, that the Light of the World is most relevant. God intends for his life to grow and bear fruit wherever we happen to be living. The idea that there are Christian elites who are educated and exported is simply bad farming. Too much soil is going to waste.
Doing our part begins by recognizing that the kingdom involves every human heart, ours and those around us. Our part is to tend our hearts and those of others by taking care of what enters our minds because it will ultimately shape and fuel our ambition. We each have standards of what we listen to. It seems clear that the harvest is connected to the standard of what we are hearing and then working out in our lives.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Father, teach us how to cooperate with your Life within. Teach us to hear Life’s voice so the Seed can reproduce as you intend. Teach its to build protective hedges around our hearts with the things we listen to. May your harvest be full in us. So be it.