Mixed Up Hearts - Soft and Hard
As Jesus continued the parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20), the different 'soil types' represent the hardness or softness of people's hearts and their willingness to receive the gospel. The first soil type was the downtrodden path where the seed lies on the surface and is snatched away by Satan (Mark 4:15). The rocky places are next. These people have some fertile soil, perhaps blown over boulders or stone to give the impression of ground in which seed might flourish. And initially it does. However there is little depth or residual water in the soil to nourish the roots and the seedling soon shrivels and dies.
Jesus said that these people respond eagerly to the Gospel. But that initial enthusiasm does not say everything. Their joy in welcoming God's Word soon fizzles out. It is obstructed by deep-seated desires and habits which seem to have a life of their own – and contradict what God says. They may join a Christian workplace group or a church for a while but nothing really changes within them because they do not really want the internal revolution which places Christ at the centre (2 Timothy 4:10). But even rocky places can become little gardens when well-tended and some plants take root in the most unlikely places. So do not stop broadcasting the seed of God's Word even amongst people with deep-seated issues.
The great need of the 21st C church is to have well rooted Christians (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7). Many believers hop from Sunday to Sunday to get their next feed. Time to invest in God's Word is skimped, and serious Bible reading may be pushed off the agenda by demands at home or work. Trouble and persecution come all too easily - without the Word to instruct our hearts, we will give up. It is more important than we may think, to drive that priority into our daily and weekly schedule. The alarms available on most digital devices can help establish a daily discipline. For some, a train, bus or plane journey means an open Bible. For others, lunch and coffee breaks are deliberately taken with another believer in order to read and pray together. Even these Word@Work devotionals could be a starting place. Who knows, they might be the beginning of a workplace fellowship or church Bible Study. However we do it, we have to take time and effort to be rooted in the Lord.
Are we content to casually witness to the love of God, but frightened of a more careful follow-up? Any golfer knows that the power of the shot is in the intention to follow-through the swing well. Everybody needs encouragement (Acts 11:23). How about thinking and planning how to involve God's people together on a regular basis at work? It is good practice for leading a discipleship group back home or even a regular one-to-one Bible study with a new Christian.
© Dr Paul Adams