By Thursday of each week I endeavor to have my sermon prep well under way. Since many New Yorkers are away over the weekend, especially over the summer, I thought it might be useful if I developed a ‘Thursday Thought’ each week. So here goes…
GOOD NEWS TRAVELS
If we’ve been looking for work, especially for some time, and we get a job, we want to let our friends know. If we’ve graduated from college, become engaged or become a parent, we want to pass on the good news.
So it is with what we believe. If our faith in Jesus Christ is real, we’ll want to let others know. Why is it that when people first come to understand who Jesus really is, they want to spread the news?
In a parable he told, Jesus likened the means of ‘spreading the word’ to ‘seed’. His analogy is helpful because it helps us see that a process is involved. Furthermore, it is instructive, because the emphasis is placed more upon the type of soils rather than the sower. The picture of the sower tells us that sowing needs to be done: God’s news needs to be spread.
However, the variety of ‘soils’ tells us that the results are not uniform. Some of the crop grew well, some poorly, some hardly at all.
Let’s think about this. People often assume that success in outreach is fundamentally a matter of methodology. It is the sower, not the soil who is more important. Package the message the right way and churches will be crawling with converts.
But that is to miss the point. The purpose of the seed, or the Word, is not so much to change one form of soil into another, rather it is to expose the quality of the soil. Spreading God’s good news, Jesus is saying, is not an exercise in human manipulation, it is a demonstration of the ways people receive God’s word.
This doesn’t mean God’s news shouldn’t be well presented. But Jesus is telling us that in the same way that it remains a mystery even to the modern farmer as to why seed changes and grows into a successful crop, so it remains hidden to our eyes as to why the word of God takes root in people’s lives and grows.
The reality is that when we declare the message of Jesus the responses vary enormously. In the end they depend, not so much on how we preach, but upon the attitudes of the people present.
All this raises the question of how we have received God’s news? Has the seed of God’s news about Jesus changed us? Is our relationship with Jesus such that we want to play our part in spreading the news?
Spreading the news can be as simple as inviting friends to church. The evidence shows that most people respond to God’s news because someone invited them to church.