Soil, Seed and Fruitfulness

And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, ‘A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.  And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.’ As he said these things, he called out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (Luke 8:4-8).

“Be fruitful and multiply.” “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” These words all fit together.

The first sentence the Lord spoke to the man and the woman He formed in the beginning. Fruit comes how? By seed being planted in the ground, by seed being hidden away in the dirt. There, beneath the surface, the husk or outer layer of the seed grows moist and cracks to release the life and reality that was contained within itself. Roots go down, shoots reach upward and break free in stems and blossoms and food.

Its a production of life ordained through the decrees of the One of who said, “Let there be Light. “ One seed goes here, another goes there, and the crop comes forth.

Man himself was formed from the soil, made in the image of God. People are made for Seed.

Adam was set in a paradise. He was tasked with naming the animals. His work was to cultivate the environment given to him by the grace of God. He had work to do, work that was related to fruitfulness. The work of cultivation, of dressing and keeping the Garden, would teach him something about himself.

This must have been an amazing space for the first guy – settled, green, growing, and comfortable. And then the Lord saw this and noted something amiss. “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So the Lord had Adam take a nap. Someone, another one, was brought out of him. The man made from the dust possessed another fashion of life within. This life had to be set free, to be shaped by God; she was given her ears, eyes, arms, and legs and her mind, her own mind, and a mouth to speak her thoughts.

If God wanted the man to go on in something of a safe, comfort zone, He never would have put the man to sleep. From Adams opened side, the Lord took something and made a complement for him. She would be him and she would be her at the same time.

Our world has so forgotten this. The man and the woman were similar but diverse. Two were to become one in the mission of trusting their Maker. There would be conversation and connection, love and passion. The differences were ordained, and the result of this Heaven-designed union would be life – fruitful multiplying life.

What kind of life would Adam have had without the one given to him? It might have been decent enough. Would there be thrills and chills? These sensations and the excitement they bring require tension, the push and the pull, the bend and the stretching. Strength comes through weight-bearing, muscle fibers break and reform. The highest notes sounded out require the narrow, tight space and bandwidth to do as they do and ring in our ears.

Good vs. Safe

We live in a world that is so wedded to the concept of safeness. Safety is not the same as goodness. C.S. Lewis made this point in his childrens fantasy story “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The Lion figure, Aslan, points to Christ, the Lion of Judah. At one point in the tale, a character poses the question about the Lion: “Is He quite safe?” The answer that came was this: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. …”

God set us free to think and choose, to agree and to disagree, and perhaps most importantly to let loose those disagreements. He did so because He is good.

Yes, God is good and let us thank Him for our food, for the Seed that He sends out in the Gospel. The Word we receive and digest is the key to our inner life and spiritual maturity. And the kind of growth we experience depends upon our heart’s condition.

Becoming fruitful, multiplying people is all about how ready we make the soil of our hearts. This is the point that the Savior made with His teaching at the start of Luke 8.

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Jesus presents a parable about the Sower and His Seed, the Seed that is the Word of God. What He says must be taken in. He who has ears must choose to incline those ears to receive the Truth as it is spoken.

The Word goes out. Jesus spoke it, but He did so in riddles and mystery. He came not to deliver detailed theological presentations. He told the Truth along the lines of His Creation.

As I said at the start, the goal for people was fruitfulness and multiplication.  What God made has always been built on relationship — the stars to the heavens, the fish to the water, the birds to the sky, the animals to the grass, and the seed to the soil, the man to the women, etc.

And because we are soil at our most basic level, we are made for Seed.

Read the parable and note the conditions Jesus specifies. Some hearts are like well-worn paths. The ground has become hard, impenetrable because of the traffic flow. The Seed falls upon this ground and is laid bare for the birds to swallow it up. This Seed never finds room to take root on such thoroughfares.

End of story, right? Not so fast.

There’s still hope for what is in the seed to grow somewhere, somehow. The birds digest what they eat and then it comes out in the process of nature; the digested seed is even more fortified by the natural fertilizers from the bird’s stomach.

This to me indicates the Truth of this statement:  God’s Word can never return void. His Seed can find a crevice to rest in and take root and grow.

Seed can drop into shallow ground, one that’s pocked with stones. It takes root, but not to the depth necessary for fruitfulness. The hot sun batters such growth, leaving it withered and dried. But this chaff can also find a new place to contribute to Creation fruitfulness. The winds carry the remains of the dried up plants to places where it becomes part of the ecosystem and makes it contribution.

Again, the Word of the Lord never returns void. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word abides forever. All things are of God, all things work together for good. All things are for the sake of the Gospel.

The Problem of Entanglement

The next kind of soil Jesus mentions is the soil given to complications. He refers to the heart that takes in seed that is antithetical to fruitfulness. Weed seeds take up space and claim the soil with rapid and voracious growth.

This soil comes to be ruled by entangling things as best defined in Mark:  “… the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the lust for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

There’s a progression of entanglement that we can give ourselves to. Our cares consume us. We get distracted and deceived by the love of money and the lust for things, material or otherwise.

Our choices really do determine the health of our inner life. Soon weeds have crowded the Truth that we received and we are paralyzed in our faith. Anyone who’s even done any gardening knows just how hard the weed is to root out.

What are we to do? Hear Him. Think on His Word. Choose the fear of the Lord and purpose to guard our hearts. These instructions we find in the book of Proverbs. We need to protect our thinking by hearing the Word. This will make the soil of hearts receptive and ready for fruitfulness.

By making these kinds of choices our hearts become as gardens enclosed. Sweet and beautiful things will grow in us.

“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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