“Hear then the parable of the sower.
“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.
“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23)
The parable of the sower and the various grounds – which does not address the idea of ‘accepting Jesus as your personal saviour’ but accepting the words of the kingdom. What is given is 4 examples of what selective listening is all about.
(1) Character: This person hears the words of the kingdom but not being able to truly find meaning in them – they did not ‘seek’ for understanding – it was basically just more ‘talk’ to them. Selectively they ignore it all and reflectively they do nothing…also Jesus mentions the ‘evil one’ – this person is likely bogged down in some level of law-breaking and see’s no need to hear something calling them out of that.
(2) Contentent: The second person is very selective of the words of kingdom – wanting only to hear the ‘good things’ of the faith and those are what they will reflect on. It reminds me of someone that is always has to portray themselves as joyful – even to the point of faking it – or even those that will not look at the tough questions in the faith. This faith is all about joy and happiness and that’s it. These people reject the words of the kingdom when it comes to ideas of learning via suffering/mistakes, people dislike you, or standing up for justice in the face of hatred. It’s also one of the passages that addresses the idea of ‘peer pressure’.
(3) Kingdoms: The third person, for all intensive purposes of the 21st Century, is someone who has a love for money and things – ties the kingdoms together? The words of the kingdom are presented to them but they selectively want to filter that through their ‘greed’ and reflect upon how this can make them get ‘more’ of both kingdoms. The term used is ‘choked’ – they believe the idea of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of our world systems can be lined up – so this one takes a while to let go off. In the end, greed/selfishness win out and make the person ‘unfruitful’ – even if they are the best business person of all time. So what is the fruit?
(4) The Way: The last person listens to words and seeks to understand the depth they contain – so much so – they even find uses for them (action). They are not selective about the ideas presented but reflective about the ideas presented – knowing that to find out what they can mean – also means to study (understand them). These people produce fruit in various levels but nonetheless they are active in that process of producing. Again what is the fruit?
This parable is not about trying to determine who is part of this faith but who is adhering to words of God and what that means to them. A few questions though: (a) what is the ‘fruit’ in relation to hearing the word? Why in the 3 problems do we see issues of character, contentment, and money? Is the true lesson of this story about the selectivity of people of the faith to hear what we want? Is there words of God that you reflected on that have made your life more meaningful?