Sermon July 12 2020
Romans 8:1-11 Matthew 13:1-23
Has anyone tried sprouting seeds? It used to be all the rage to have your own bean sprouts, mung beans usually, on the kitchen windowsill. It’s not hard to get a seed to germinate. You just have to give it water. Maybe a bit of light. But what is in the seed reacts as soon as it detects water, and sends out a little root tip, looking for water. The word of God is like that too. As soon as it detects even the slightest encouragement, it starts to grow. But if the seed is sown on rocky ground, all dry and hard, there is no water. No reason for the seed to start into action.
If the word of God is sown on rocky ground, that means it is somewhere very unreceptive. Do you know people who have stony hearts? Gravelly faces? Flint expressions? People who don’t listen to anything of God, or religion. Maybe they say, I don’t need all that stuff, I’m doing all right on my own. We used to have a boarder who was from Russia. He thought Christians were weak because we relied on God, and that his people were strong because they didn’t need God. He was like a rocky ground, impervious to the word of God.
In the real world, seed that lands on rocks is soon eaten up by birds and mice and anything that can use it, but it doesn’t take root.
Let’s look at what St Paul has to say to the Romans about people who have no time for God –
‘Those who think they can do it on their own, end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end.
Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.’
We have seen what happens when people measure their own moral muscle, and don’t end up using it. They become judgmental and hateful, criticising everyone and loving no one except maybe their own family. These people end up rejecting those of other race, other religion, other anything really. They try to make themselves feel better by belittling everyone else.
But Paul has the remedy for this too:
‘Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.’
If the seed is thrown onto weedy ground, full of thistles and convolvulus, it might germinate. But there is so much competition. The stronger, older plants prevent the light from reaching the newly sprouted shoot, and their roots suck up all the moisture, so the poor little shoot gets paler and weaker till it finally gives up. That is like when people hear the word of God but there are so many other things going on that it can’t be nurtured.
Do you know people like that? They are happy to hear about God, and they know you go to church and live by faith, but they just don’t have time to consider how this could be something in their lives. They don’t have the energy to weed their garden.
I used to work as a gardener to elderly people until fairly recently. Many gardens need help to flourish, or the bully weed plants take over. If you want a particular plant to thrive it needs to be tended. Maybe you can be the gardeners for your friends. People whose lives are so busy with cares can be encouraged to take some time out, some ‘me’ time, to stop doing everything else and just think
about what they are doing here on earth. About how they got here, who made them. Maybe you can help your friend find that time by minding their kids for a few hours, or sharing their busy load in some other way. Even just by taking the time to talk to them, you are giving them a little window in their busyness.
There is freedom for those who trust in God. These are the people whose gardens are tended, where the weeds are removed and the soil fed, where the water is the right amount and the plants get enough sun, and are protected from frost.
Those of us here today would want to count ourselves in this category – but the parable doesn’t just talk about the plant growing up to the light. It produces something! If you grow one kernel of corn, it might produce 3 ears of corn, each with a hundred kernels. That’s a 300 fold increase! Many seeds do this, producing so much from just one, that we can use most of the seeds for food, and sell them, and give them away, and still have enough to sow for the next year. The word of God is like this too –
As Matthew says, ‘this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.’
Have you seen God’s fruit in your lives? I know many of you have. Do you want your friends, relations, the lady in the supermarket, the man at the petrol station, to have that fruit and joy in their life too? I hope you do, because if we truly have a wonderful thing in Jesus, we really want to share it. Let’s all be gardeners in this cold month of winter – not for real plants which let’s face it aren’t doing much, but with people. Let’s sow the Good seed, let’s water it, let’s weed it, and help it flourish. Just as plants that are tended do much better than those left alone, so does the word of God in people’s hearts.
Gulp, I hear you thinking. That sounds like hard work, trying in every encounter with someone to be helping the word of God grow. Good news! Paul says:
‘If the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus,- bring you alive to himself. When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!’
Trust God to give you the Holy Spirit to empower you, and it won’t be an uphill battle.