By Joel Hess –
This past Sunday many of us listened to our Lord share his fairly famous, to the point of boring, parable of the wasteful and seemingly incompetent sower. The Lord warns his disciples to not be surprised if their church doesn’t immediately take off like Jack’s beanstalk. Just keep on keepin’ on. Thanks Jesus. Yawn.
Jesus teaches his disciples that many obstacles will prevent people from enjoying His Word which delivers the peace and hope He won on the cross and in the tomb.
Are you getting bored?
He gave 3 examples of poor environments for plants; 3 places I suppose you should never throw seeds. The first seeds were thrown on the path, and the birds just came and took them away. The third set of seeds were scattered among thorns and they struggled to survive as they were crowded out, as Jesus would say, by the worries of the world and the glories of the world. Are you yawning? Am I boring you?
I am interested in the second set of seeds. (Surely, I have exhausted your patience by now). Jesus says the second set of seeds fell on rocky ground and when the sun came up, they quickly withered away because they had no root. Jesus explains,“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”
American Christianity has gotten fat and lazy as the sun sets on our luxurious reign of cultural and political influence in the western world. We have created a rocky environment, frequently focusing on “one and done” consumer evangelism. Get ‘em saved and move on to the next person (while the last person walks out the back door to the next church).
We don’t like roots. We don’t like the time it takes to create roots. We don’t like to wait. We don’t like to till the soil, remove the rocks, create good ground. Because that is BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m bored just talking about it right now.
We want quick slogans, clever rhymes, and cute pictures. We don’t want to think too hard. And we, pastors, don’t want to ask too much; oh my, we might lose someone! They won’t shop here anymore.
We have created a monster: parents, teachers, pastors! We have succumbed to the tyranny of our audience! We have trained them to expect quick, entertaining one-liners. We have trained them to expect us to be monkeys flailing our arms, juggling flaming balls, all the while keeping a beat with our foot.
Yes indeed, we are called to be all things to all people. But I would rather be circumcised for the lost. Well…. Ok that’s hyperbole. I’ll refrain from eating food sacrificed to Colonel Sanders? It’s one thing to go to people where they are at; it’s another to keep people there.
And then, we are aghast that kids leave the church in their 20s! Oh no! We are losing! The world is winning. Christian thought can’t compete! So, some say the answer is more flame throwing, juggling, bigger billboards and more special effects! Other dorks say, “Oh wait, it’s just a fad; they will come back to our liturgy because it’s, like, retro cool.” Well, neither is the answer. We need to bore people! We need to create a culture that doesn’t mind being bored!
The church isn’t losing to the world. The church is losing to itself. Kids are leaving because they got no roots: just quick one-liners that fail when in engaged in a real conversation or a real situation or a real confrontation! In today’s world, there are no new arguments or discoveries that baffle Holy Scripture. We just aren’t equipping our people to think. Quite frankly, no institution is anymore. We just fight propaganda with propaganda.
Makin’ roots is BORING! You just can’t get around it! It’s boring. Truly learning, studying, growing is boring! Have you ever watched a plant grow!?
Next time someone tells you church is boring, tell them, “You’re boring! Your shallow, vain, cyborg life is boring the hell out of me as you speak.” Ok, don’t tell them that.
Now, I’m not encouraging pastors, teachers, parents to be boring on purpose. Though, I have heard some pastors say that you should remove emotion from the sermon. What? We have a lot of excitement at our church and I flail my arms with the best of them. But when it’s time to till the soil, to flip over the compost, to memorize scripture, to read Leviticus, don’t embarrassingly hurry through it. Or don’t cry yourself to sleep because you might have lost a member because the service or the Bible study was boring.
It’s the boring, repetitive drips of water which transform even a rock. Be bored!
I hope the church you go to is at least sometimes boring! Roots are being made.
But in the end, this parable isn’t about the best way to do church. It is about God. God is a crappy farmer. He just throws that seed everywhere. He is wasteful and foolish as he plants. He doesn’t look for good potential people. He doesn’t look for the best soil. He throws it everywhere – the Gospel that is. He wants all to know peace and hope! He wants all to have life! He will keep on keepin’ on! And He’s done a pretty good job of it! Goodness, you believe!
It is, after all, the same God who seemingly wasted the blood of His own Son, Jesus, on us! He paid the price for our sins, without even asking whether we were even sorry! And He has told His church to scatter that seed everywhere!