Monday, October 21, 2013

Are You Casting or Growing? (Mark 4:1-20)

This may be the most read—and most misread—parable in the Bible.

Parables are simple stories that illustrate a teaching. They should never be read like some sort of code, where each and every element reveals some hidden truth. We should not try to allegorize them in any way. That is an example of bad interpretation. Of course, we are tempted to do so largely by the Bible itself—specifically this parable—because the Bible does on occasion use allegory. However, when it does it clearly interprets the allegory; as it does here.

Even here we are tempted to read in more than what is there. Or sometimes we get so caught up in all the imagery that we miss the important stuff. For example: if you are a believer, where do you see yourself in this parable. It is likely that you see yourself as the sower. If so, you are mostly wrong.

The sower distributes the Word. For the past several generations believers have been taught that that is their job. Preach the Word, evangelize, and make converts. That is not an entirely bad thing, but it is an error of over-simplification. Jesus did tell His disciples to share the news of the Kingdom, but He never said that we should make converts. He commanded His disciples to make more disciples—to reproduce. That is an organic concept. In this story, we are actually the soils. Our measure of obedience lies not in how much seed we cast, but rather in how much fruit we produce. That is a more challenging task.

Evangelism pushers will speak of this parable and remind people that it is not our job to determine how good the soil is; we just cast seed everywhere. True. Everyone needs to hear. However, soil quality determination is extremely vital. We need to examine ourselves and determine what sort of soil we are. Are we the kind of disciples who prioritize our relationship with God above everything else in life, or those who have accepted the Gospel as just another aspect among many others in life? How’s your fruit?

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