I consider it a privilege to have grown up on a farm. I had the opportunity to experience first-hand something that Jesus used in His teaching to illustrate how the Kingdom of God works.
When Jesus talks about seed and soil and sun and thorns and harvest, I get it. Birds do eat seed and the hot sun does scorch plants in shallow and rocky soil. And weeds – weeds can be the death of a good crop! They must be controlled, either by tillage, as in the ‘old days’ or by chemicals (not sure how good they are for us!) or by some other sophisticated farming practices. A lot of obstacles stand in the way of a bountiful harvest, and without perseverance in addressing and overcoming them, there won’t be a harvest.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. We can receive the ‘good seed’ into ‘good soil’ but if we are to produce the harvest of righteousness that God intends for us, we too must persevere in overcoming the obstacles that inevitably arise against our faith. There is, at the very start, the inconvenient truth that there is an evil person called the devil. You don’t believe that he exists? That suits him just fine.
But how do we account for the volumes upon volumes of gratuitous evil that occurs in our world every single day?
Jesus explained it like this: “The thief [the devil] comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” (Gospel of John 10.10).
That thief will take away God’s Word from our minds unless we persevere in refusing to let it go.
There is the heat of persecution. My wife and I received a call the other day from a national ministry. One of the things they said was, “It is harder and harder to get a hearing for Christianity before the parliaments and courts of the world.”
Suggest that God created our universe, and you could be the object of derisive scorn. The ‘world’ turns up the heat and if a person does not persevere in their commitment to Christ, the fire of their faith will be extinguished.
There is, however, a more subtle threat than either of these first two. What is it? Weeds! Jesus said, “The seed that fell among thorns [weeds] stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature.”
If we are to be what God wants us to be and do what God wants us to do, we will have to persevere in making our commitment to Christ a higher priority than our worries or our pursuit of either riches or pleasure.