The Lesson of the Soils

In the synoptics’ parable of the sower, the one variable is the soil.  Same sower, same seed, but different soil.  The variable results therefore point to the state of the soil as a critical consideration.  I don’t intend to do anything like a full exegesis here, more of a pondering on the truth already stated.

There are implications in this for those that listen on a Sunday morning. What can be done to encourage them to come to the sermon with open and expectant hearts?  Surely there needs to be an ethos in the church that the Bible is for the church.  It’s not for academics to dissect in their ivory tower exegesis labs.  It’s for the community of God’s people in the real world, looking for real help, real insight, real spiritual food, real input from God.  This morning I enjoyed listening to a series being introduced at a good church – one of the speakers quoted Karl Barth, “If we expected to hear God’s Word more, we would hear it even in weak and perverted sermons.  The statement that there was nothing in it for me, should read that I was not ready to let anything be said to me.” I don’t share that to spark a debate on neo-orthodox conceptions of God’s Word, but to put a finger on the attitude of the heart in listening to the Bible preached.

There are implications in this for those that listen before Sunday morning. Surely our churches need to be encouraged to listen well, to be good hearers of God’s Word as it is preached to them.  But that same encouragement must also be pointed our way.  We are real people, in a real world, with real challenges and real spiritual needs.  We do not sit in anything even slightly ivory or lab-like as we prepare to preach.  Like others, we too sit under God’s Word as listeners, as hearers.  Let us make sure we have expectant hearts and an eager openness to be shaped by the Bible passages we study.  Right now I am studying Joel and preparing a series in this little power-packed book.  I must prayerfully listen well, before I dare to speak it to others.

The one variable is the soil.  Always.  Theirs on a Sunday morning, the world’s as we witness to them, but ours too as we sit under God’s Word, listening as we prepare to speak.

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