Good GroundFr. Barnabas Powell
The old coder adage “Garbage in – Garbage out.” It meant that if the computer programmer got his code wrong, then it just stands to reason that the program wouldn’t work properly.
What is true for computer programming is true for all of life. There is a current dust up about Genetically Modified Organism science and how certain foods are genetically modified to resist pests, or disease, or to be more colorful. There are many who sense a real danger in this since we don’t really know the long term consequences in altering the gene sequence of these foods. As usual, our technology runs ahead of our wisdom. But hey, we humans have a long and storied reputation about doing what’s possible before we know whether we should or not! How about a bite of this apple, Adam?
The gift of discernment, the wisdom to see clearly, only comes when we have been properly prepared to be wise! That’s not going to happen by accident. It isn’t going to happen over night. And it isn’t going to happen without attention and effort. Becoming wise means being willing to be taught, being aware of yourself enough to know you need to be taught, and being humble enough and patient enough to put the effort in to become the “good soil” that grows the healthiest life!
Look at our Gospel Lesson today. You know this story all too well, but let’s focus on it intently today. It’s Matthew 13:3-9:
The Lord said this parable, “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
How many times have you heard this? A thousand? A million times? I know I’ve heard it, preached it, and heard it preached all my life. And yet, this passage still holds power.
Notice first The Sower is just doing what sowers do; he’s planting seeds. And why? Because he expects and wants a harvest. He wants the seeds he plants to grow, to produce, and to thrive. This is the desire of the sower. Whether we are identifying the sower as God or even ourselves as we “sow” the talents, the time, and the resources of our lives into our living; both God and we desire to see the “seeds” we plant grow and produce. This makes perfect sense since we are created in God’s image. Of course we and our Creator will desire the same thing!
Next notice, the seeds fall on all kinds of ground. Just like God offers His good “seed;” His love and life to everyone no matter who they are; we also interact with all kinds of people and we share our lives with folks who appreciate it and folks who don’t. The investment God makes in His world is meant to reveal just what kind of person you are. He shares Himself with you and me to educate us about whether our hearts are prepared to grow the love He gives freely to everyone. God does this, not for His benefit; He knows what kind of “soil” you are. No, God does this to teach me, if I am willing to learn, who I really am. And my own life is invested in others and I discover who is willing to share my life and who isn’t. Wisdom demands the development of discernment to see where the best “soil” is to produce the most abundant life!
Finally, God knows what He wants to produce in our lives so that we will be healthy and prepared to enjoy His life forever. If you are willing to be prepared to have “good soil” in your life by the disciplined and focused attention of proper priorities, purposeful practice of the disciplines of the Faith, and humble confession of your constant need for God’s work in your life through repentance and confession, you will be able to be that “good soil” where the “seed” of God’s love, His Word, finds a hospitable home to grow and produce the “fruit” of the Spirit that makes a person “like Christ.” Plus, you will also learn the path of discernment in your own life to tell where the “good soil” is around you to invest your life well in others!
Today, is your life the “good soil” that joyfully accepts and desires the grace of God to grow within you? Do you understand that the whole purpose of the Way of the Faith is to make your life that “good soil” so that the Life of God can grow within you forever? Lying at your feet is the treasure of timeless faith with all the spiritual and physical tools necessary to make your life that “good soil.” The liturgy, the prayers, the Church Year, the Holy Scriptures, the wisdom of the Faith, all act as God’s “soil preparation” so you will be wise and discerning in your life, waiting for you to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. All this week we’ve encouraged you to help Fr. Barnabas and Faith Encouraged Ministries to be ready for the launch of our Video Project. Would your parish find a multimedia tool valuable in helping introduce the Orthodox Faith to the average American? We shoot our demo video on July 10th. Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great weekend and Happy 4th of July!