"Listen! A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly. When the sun rose, it was scorched to death. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. Other seed fell into good soil..." - Mark 4:3-7
If Jesus was into moralizing, the moral of this parable would read: "Be good soil, children!"
But the Parable of the Sower isn't about the soil. The Parable of the Sower is about the Sower…and a reckless one at that, spreading seed anywhere and everywhere in flagrant disregard of soil quality.
That's good news because this parable doesn't describe different categories of people (the rocky, the thorny, and the good). It describes the varied geography of every person. Yet God sows and shines and pours on the just and unjust parts of us in equal measure.
Doesn't that sound wasteful and ill-advised? Don't we prefer people to be easier to categorize and for God to be more selective? Instead of the gospel of Jesus, don't we fancy a gospel that divides humanity up into good guys/soil (us) and bad guys/soil (them), all the while ignoring the large tracts of desolate ground in our own inner landscapes?
Even a cursory look at the original disciples reveals that Jesus knew all about the diverse garden of human beings. The fact that Simon earned the nickname "Rocky" (Peter) makes that clear. Yet farmer Jesus continued to shower his disciples with gospel seeds even when they fail to get it, even when they turn him over to the authorities, abandon him in his hour of need, and deny ever knowing him.
That's who God is. Sowing abundantly is what God does. Seeing God's extravagant generosity is the first step in doing likewise.
Thanks for sowing so abundantly in my life, farmer God. Please help me share the harvest as generously as you.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.