Recently, a friend of mine decided that he wanted to follow Jesus, but he had a serious roadblock arise in that his only remaining family member, who happened to be the person who raised him since he was a small boy, told him that if he were to decide to follow through with his plans to be baptized, he would disown him as family and he should not call him again.
As you can imagine, this sent my friend into a bit of a tailspin. This was very difficult for him to hear. I don’t think he realized how significant of a division that his decision to follow Jesus could cause.
That night, as he was telling me of this situation, we had planned to read the words of Jesus about the four soils. This story is found in full in Matthew 13:1-23, but in summary, Jesus told a parable of a farmer who sowed seeds, which fell on four different types of soil:
- A path that had been walked over, creating hard ground that the seed couldn’t penetrate into.
- Rocky soil where the seed couldn’t penetrate and create a root into the ground.
- Soil that had many thorns and weeds in it.
- Good soil that was ready to receive the seed and grow a large harvest.
In the case of my friend, the story remains to be seen but seems to be going in a good direction. And we are praying for his family member, that their heart will be softened to accept my friend and the decision that he has made.
Of course, with my friend, we were concerned that the seed had fallen onto soil that had the thorns and weeds, which in this case would be the family relationships. In other words, would the strain of this relationship cause my friend to not follow Jesus? We would need to see whether that was the case, or if his heart actually was good soil so that a great harvest, not only of his life but also many others, could be achieved.
At the same time, I have other friends who have been around churches for quite a while, and I have heard some of them profess their faith in Christ, but now they are questioning why, exactly, they need God at all. They have said that they have been able to figure out solutions to all of their problems on their own based on their own resources and intelligence.
These are also some significant and powerful weeds. It is pretty ironic, but I think that it is very possible to become so lulled into apathy by the blessing that we have been given, no matter how small or large, that we can forget where that blessing actually comes from. God is the one who gives us everything that we have. To believe that you have generated all of your own solutions, blessings, monies, etc., is really to have a misunderstanding of your life, your abilities, and your capabilities. Of course, every life is different, but there will likely come a time during your life when you will need to decide who is actually delivering that blessing. You? Or God? And at that time, it will become clear that all of this affluence, while it has been an amazing blessing to you, has actually become like the weeds on the story of Jesus, crowding out seed that God has been trying to sow in your life.
So my hope is that we will all learn this now, learn that it is God who gives us what we have and that it will all one day be gone, so now we need to decide how we will use these blessings. To follow Him and produce the crop that the good soil will produce? Or to simply enjoy the blessings for ourselves, solely living our lives the way that we would like and turning away from what God is doing in us? We each need to decide.