Are You Sitting Comfortably:Growing Together
Over the summer we are going to be looking at some of the parables that Jesus told. These are simple relatable story with a moral or spiritual point. This time it is about receptivity.
Receptivity has a lot to do with how we are. What I take in is dependent on how I am. Whether I am tired, distracted, engaged, interested, or find what I am reading or hearing is relevant to me and my life at that time. I guess that you are probably the same. Whether I ACT on what I hear or read depends on the WHAT, the WHO, and the WHY. For example if I am sitting in my bedroom upstairs and hear someone shouting at me to jump out of the window, what I do would depend on the who and the why. If it was the local bully I would ignore them. If it was a fireman I would be wise to do as he says. The who is critical in our decision. So is the why. The bully wishes me harm but the fireman is trying to care for me. It is important to remember the “What the who and the why”, so that we respond to the right prompts in our lives.
What I am talking about is relevant if you are a follower of Jesus or at the stage exploring Christianity and trying to understand more about it. Today’s parable looks at the degrees of receptivity to God and Jesus and the reasons behind faith developing or withering.
Jesus talks about this in “The Parable of the Sower and the Soils”
LINK Matthew 13: 3-23
The Path: is made of the same stuff as the good soil, it is impossible to sow because it has hardened over the years. It has been trodden down. Some of us are like that. Experiences, disappointment and doubts have hardened us so that we are unable to hear and understand what Jesus is trying to say to us. We can’t hear the “what”, don’t know the “who”, and can’t understand the “why”.
The rocky soil is shallow. The roots can’t go down deep so that when trouble comes faith wilts and dies. Trouble like illness, death of a loved one or perceived unanswered prayer can rock faith without deep roots. We don’t understand the “what”, don’t know the “who” and doesn’t trust the “why”.
The thorns grow alongside the seed. They represent the stuff we are living alongside; our culture. The “what” of God’s way to live gets lost in the voices around us that preach a different way of life. They teach a different way to live a fulfilling happy life.
Generosity verses acquisitiveness. The world says money and stuff is the way to be happy and secure. But Jesus tells us it is better to give that to receive. Our culture is increasingly encouraging hate, not love. Revenge and bitterness rather than forgiveness. We are encouraged to live by the worlds moral standards and to ignore Gods. Do we live by God’s standards or have they been strangled by our cultures values. But why do we believe that God’s way is best? To understand this you have to understand the “what” the “who” and the “why”.
The “what” is the word of God that he has given us over many years culminating in Jesus who has been described as the living word. He is also the “who”. The “why” is because we are all God’s dearly loved children and he wants us to live in the way that is best for us. God loves us and wants us to live well in healthy communities. He wants us to live fulfilled lives in relationship with the one who made us.
If we understand the “what the who and the why” the result is TRUST. If we trusted God imagine how different our lives would be, our church, our families, our schools, our workplaces and our neighbourhoods.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
Read the passages through.
What words or phrases jump out at you? Why do you think that is?
Which do you relate to; the path, the rocky soil, or the thorn infested earth? Maybe even the good soil.
I believe that if we are honest most of us exist in the thorny ground. What are the most common snares that our culture catches us in?
Do you understand the “what, the who, and the why”? If so what is it that God is trying to say to you at this time?
4. How would you describe the “who”; God the father, son and Holy Spirit?
How would you describe the why?
Someone once said that “Hearing is a divine art”. How are you doing at this divine art? Are there things that help you to hear God and put into practice what he is saying to you? What are they?
Are there barriers? If so what are they and how can you overcome them?
As a result of looking at this passage is there anything that you would like to change in yourself. What are you going to do about it?