At church, we’ve been in a series titled “Dirt Matters”. It’s based on the parable of the Sower And The Seed as described in Mark Chapter four. I’ve found the most intriguing part to be where Jesus tells the Disciples, “I speak in parables so that seeing they may not perceive and hearing they may not understand…”. Mark 4:12 (paraphrase)
In other words, Jesus is hiding the truths of the Kingdom of God from those that I would call the “Lookie Loos”. Those are the people that are only present hoping to see a good show. You know the type. We call them Chreasters. Those Christians that only come to church on Christmas and Easter, or maybe when their favorite band is playing. They love a good show and like to feel good about themselves, but have no real interest in true Kingdom Concepts. To keep with the farming analogy, Jesus was sifting the soil of the multitudes, looking for good soil where He might plant good seed.
The beauty in this story is when the Disciples asked Jesus what the parable means. He promptly responds with, “AHA! Now unto you it has been given to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven!”. Mark 4:11 (paraphrase). He then goes on to explain to them the meaning of the parable. The Sower is God, the Seed is the Word of God and the Soil represents the hearts of men and women, some hard, some rocky, some weed infested and some good. In essence, He’s now moving from sifting the soil to sowing the seed.
It’s important for us as Pastors and leaders in the church to understand the difference between sifting the soil and sowing the seed. Im a fan of deep theologically rich preaching. I came to faith in a church that put much value in the preaching of Gods Word. When we fail to give clear application from God’s Word however, we fall short in helping our congregants to access the mysteries of the Kingdom that Jesus referred to. In a sense, as well intentioned as we may be, too often we preach the parable of Mark chapter four, but fail to give the explanation. We’re sifting the soil, but not sowing the seed. This in turn leaves those with good soil struggling to bear any fruit whatsoever.
I pray that I as a pastor can find the balance between sifting the soil and sowing the seed. May it be said of more churches today, including our own, what was said of the leaders in the book of Nehemiah, verses 8:8…
“They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”
Nehemiah 8:8 ESV