I am thinking about the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15. Yesterday we thought about how the kingdom of God spreads by the word, bringing genuine transformation, but not to all. Here are some more thoughts for us preachers to ponder:
4. The goal in seed sowing is heart penetration. The problem with the first three soils is that the seed lacks penetration. In human terms it looks like a non-transformed heart. The seed by the path people are self-lovers who are not penetrated at all by the seed. The seed in soil on rock folks are self-lovers who wither spiritually as soon as testing or trial comes because they are still trying to protect self. The seed among thorns group are attracted to Jesus, but feel the tug of cares, riches and pleasures … and these ultimately win. None of these people have their hearts transformed. They love self and show it in different ways. But the seed in good soil penetrates deep. The life is not on the surface, but comes from deep within. That is where Christian transformation takes place.
Seed is not impressive as a projectile. An acorn will barely dent soil as it falls on it, but if it penetrates, then from inside it can change everything! In Italy, apparently, there is a famous grave where an acorn fell in with the famous deceased occupant. Centuries later the great marble slab lies broken in two by the oak tree that eventually grew up. The word of God is not very impressive as a tool for pressuring conformity from the outside, but when it gets inside a heart then watch patiently as that life is transformed!
5. Listeners should take care then how they hear. Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need to hear carefully (in Luke 8 see verses 8, 9-10, 18, 21). In a sense the applicational burden of this parable is on our listeners rather than on us as preachers, but actually, there are several ways we can help our congregations to heed Jesus’ instruction here:
- Be a careful listener yourself – it will show in your life and in your preaching.
- Make it clear how important it is to hear the word of God – make sure they know you are just the messenger, but the source of the message is worthy of heartfelt attention.
- Don’t be dull – be the most engaging and effective communicator you can be. God’s word is worthy of our best efforts, and what a frightening thought that we could get in the way of our listeners hearing! (Don’t be boring. Don’t be monotonous. Don’t be laborious. Don’t be uninteresting. How else can I say it?)
Tomorrow I will finish the list of thoughts, but feel free to comment at any time.