Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parable of the Soils: Thorny soil

Luke 8: 7,14
Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.       -Jesus
This parable is grabbing my consciousness. How many times have I read it? How many times have I taught it? The first type of soil represented the calloused, tough exterior that stubbornly refused to consider the message of the gospel--the good news in the Word of God. The second type showed much enthusiasm initially, but could not handle the test of basic training like the naive army recruit. This is perhaps not a fault of their own, quite possibly owning to a shallow gospel presentation by some deceptive recruiter.

The third type of soil - the thorny soil - has one or more of three characteristics that all prove fatal in the end. Some are choked by the weeds of the cares (worries) of the world.  Are you preoccupied with what the world thinks of you? Is your heart held captive by material things? Those who belong to this category fret endlessly about their looks, clothes, cars, and social status. They are no heavenly good because they are too earthly minded (1 John 2:15-16 includes a powerful warning about this).

Jesus further explains that weedy hearts are also choked by the love of money. Have you ever held your life up to the light of Paul's axiom in 1 Tim. 6:10 "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing to have it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang." Wealth is so alluring, yet there are so many that pursue riches and exhaust themselves. How sad it is that they come to their senses on their deathbeds admitting it was all an enticing mirage!

Finally, and possibly most seductive to today's generation, the love of the pleasures of the world choke countless souls. As Americans we have come to extract from the Declaration of Independence the fatal notion that the "pursuit of happiness" is really the "pursuit of pleasure." We are driven by our appetites. We are slaves to our desires. We whine when anything stands in the way of what makes us feel good. We over eat, we over drink, over buy, over possess, over sex, are always craving more. We compose a small fraction of the world's population, yet consume the vast majority of its resources. We follow our hearts, not our heads, and wind up, like Oscar Wilde* pursuing pleasure and finding destruction.  Are you swimming with this current or against it? Be careful, lest you are dashed on the jagged rocks below the unseen waterfall.

Thankfully, there is a fourth type of soil! I can't wait for tomorrow.

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