Disciples are people who choose to give themselves to learning. This is who we are when we come before Word of God. We’re disciples when we listen to a message from a pulpit; we’re disciples when we talk among ourselves about who God says He is; and we’re disciples as we drink in the truth from the pages at the breakfast table, in a quiet study, or on our knees before we lay ourselves down to sleep.
Jesus spoke of disciples in His parables. In particular, the Parable of the Sower describes the Word as “seed” that falls into various types of soil.
The Bible is a surprisingly earthly-minded book. We live in the here and now and so did Jesus, our Lord. He brought His deity down from above and clothed it with dust, our dust. He became a jar of clay just as we are jars of clay.
Consider this: Jesus said more about money than He did Heaven or Hell. Those places are realities, but the ultimate reality, as far as the Bible is concerned, is the New Heavens and the New Earth.
What may surprise some even more is that God’s signature element in that “newness” will be a city. The climax of the divine plan does not find God with His people swept away to a mountain top or even into a terrestrial paradise. The New Jerusalem comes down and it is perfectly square. All the angles are right angles and every corner of the place shall be filled with His presence, so much so that His glory shall be the only Light. Lamps, suns, moons, and stars shall no longer be needed.
What We’re Made Of
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it. Matter matters to Him. His Creation fits together according to His great design. Knowing these things, we should not be surprised that Jesus talked about spiritual principles by the way of natural things.
Soil. Dirt. Mud.
This is that stuff that we’re made of, and Christ longs for us to let His Word take root in us. We can come, just as we are, with all of our grit and grime.
The question we must continually ask ourselves is what kind of ground do we offer Him? The lesson of the Sower of Seed is the first of a series of stories that Jesus taught in Matthew 13.
It starts with the seed that falls on the path – the high traffic areas. This seed is quickly gobbled up by the birds before it has a chance to take root. People can come to Christ and His Word as if it’s just another of many communications. The seed falls among all the others; it’s never allowed to sink in.Those who come before the Word with good-grounded hearts are those who hear and understand. Click To Tweet
Next, we read of soil that’s shallow and rocky. This kind of heart listens and learns – a little bit. It is happy to know something right and real, until difficulties or challenges come along. This kind of thin faith then falters and withers.
Seed sown among thorns grows well for a time, until the entanglements of this world progressively choke it out. Notice how these weeds pop up and steal the life of the good plant. Cares of this world come, followed by the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust for other things (see Mark 4), and these choke the Word and render it ineffective in life.
Those who come before the Word with good-grounded hearts are those who hear and understand. Deep roots form and the plants shoot upwards. Their fruit flourishes to the point that it brings an increase. That is, others are fed from the lives in which the Word takes root.
This is the essence of being Christ’s disciples, and being together is part of that. Church life makes for real growth; it helps us become rooted.
The Constant of Communion
God moves us in His purposes. So we become part of fellowship and get together as the Spirit moves us.
The right kind of fellowship is one with communion – the connection among the people is built upon the love of God. Communion invites differences and diversity. A real collection of disciples is going be a cast of contrary characters. We’re different people with different lives and different things to share with each other.
I cannot choose who I am going help in his or her discipleship; neither can I choose who or what God uses to make me into a stronger believer. It is the Lord who adds to my circle of connection. This is the Spirit’s work, and it is a wonder and mystery. The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1:25).
All I know is that God has something great for each of us and that great thing is a deep relationship with Him. And, He has made it so that true depth is only reached in community, in our operation as members of the Body of Christ.
We need each other, even if it’s just few of us gathering for coffee and pastry. It’s part of His work in us. The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard – it is the smallest of seeds. But it flavors everything it touches.
For more about thinking with God about these things, check out “Life, Peace and the Spiritual Mind,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, Pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.