I have a question for you….
What is the responsibility of Christians in its simplest form?
My reason for asking is this question has been a re-occurring theme in conversations I have had, thoughts overflowing my mind, in my personal devotion and when I am preparing my next sermon. No matter how many hours pass in the day, the question of our responsibility as Christians in its simplest form comes and floods my mind of situations, people and circumstances, analyzing my words and actions to see if they are glorifying my Savior. So what is your answer to this question?
What if I told you that our basic actions are few but can be effective? Our actions are important; in fact they are critical in spreading the Gospel. However, spreading the Gospel is only one part of what we are supposed to do. The actions we have surrounding the Gospel is just as critical in effectively sharing what Christ has done in our lives. You may even say that our actions are the pre-cursor to giving us the opportunity to share the Gospel. But how is this expressed in Scripture? There is a lot here and how can we simplify it to allow for easier understanding? The answer is in farming.
The beginning of Matthew 13 is a story that Jesus told his disciples concerning the Gospel….
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” – Matthew 13:3-9 (NASB)
The first thing to notice here is there is a “sower”. In the most simplest of terms, a sower plants seeds. This is the person who walks in the field that has been tilled and prepared for planting. They usually have a large satchel with thousands of seeds. As they walk up and down the tilled field, they grab a handful of seeds and scatter the seeds all over the ground. All they do is ensure that all of the seed they are given is distributed evenly across the field. Did the sower till the field? Nope. Did the sower prepare the field for planting? Nope. All the sower is responsible for is planting. Planting the Gospel is our responsibility. Our action is to share what God did through Jesus Christ on the cross. We are told to throw the Gospel out into the field that God has prepared. It is only God who can make someone ready to hear the Gospel. It is only God who can till the hearts and minds of people. Our part is to plant the Gospel seed.
Another area that we get caught up in is our responsibility to ensure the Gospel is told at the right time. We concern ourselves with the quality of sharing, the purpose of sharing and the reasons for sharing the Gospel. Many times, we worry over lives that we have no control over. We concern ourselves with where the seed was planted and try to make it grow. Unfortunately, we sin by worrying about these things. Instead look at what happens next in the story. The seed fell on four places:
- Seed that fell by the wayside.
- Seed that fell by the stony places.
- Seed that fell among thorns.
- Seed that fell on good ground.
Did you see that? Most of the seed didn’t fall on good ground. Most of the seed fell on ground that was not suited for growing plants. The sower didn’t concern himself with where, how and why. He simply did as his Master commanded, he planted the seeds. I know this is a matter of opinion, but I think Jesus shared this parable this way to show us how we need not be concerned about who, what, where, why and how. We only need to concern ourselves with planting of seeds. We do not know what land (person) God has prepared. We do not know what God is doing in their life or how He is working. We only are told to plant the seed of the Gospel.
As Christians, we need to stop getting caught up in the minute details of how to share the Gospel. There have been many methods planned by good theologians that have worked in the lives of people. You and I can read into infinitum on how to deliver the Gospel message. However, we have to understand fully, it is only God who prepares their hearts. We do not. The Gospel is the seed we plant. Our actions are to plant, not to grow or force growth.
The last, and very important thought, I want to share is, the quality of the plant. Notice I didn’t say the quality of the seed. The seed (the Gospel) is already at the highest quality. The plant, however, has different variations of quality. Some of the plants yielded a hundredfold. Some yielded sixtyfold and some yielded only thirtyfold. Why would Jesus share this information with his disciples? Why not stop and just say that the plant yielded fruit? Why such detail?
I believe that when Jesus shared every parable or story, he did it with the details in mind. He purposely went out of His way to give us what we need to hear. I believe that this detail is essential in understanding our role with planting the seed of the Gospel.
Notice the varied amounts of yield. Some yielded an incredible crop, some a medium crop and some a small crop. All yielded a crop, just not all yield the same amount. Sometimes, when we see our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we judge their crop. We assume they are being ineffective if they don’t bear the crop like we do. We forget that it is the Gospel that bears fruit. It is the Gospel that grows.
“…the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as [h]in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and [i]increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and [j]understood the grace of God in truth…” – Colossians 1:6 (NASB)
Just as we cannot force growth in the ground of our tomato plants, we cannot force growth in the lives of our brothers and sisters. We have to freely allow the Gospel to grow. We have to freely allow the Gospel to produce the fruit necessary in their lives. Not any one of us is identically alike in this world, so we shouldn’t think we are all alike in the next. Our lives are individually precious to God. He has created us with purpose and meaning. All we need to do is sow the seed of the Gospel on the ground that God has tilled and made ready.
However, this is only our first action. There are two more actions we need to take. Unfortunately, that will have to wait until next time……
God bless and encourage someone today.