In the marketplace of ideas that we live in, how do we differentiate the claims of Jesus against all others? Life today causes us to constantly live within the tension between the ideas of the world and the words of Jesus. There is no denying that Jesus offers and calls us to a way of life directly in opposition to the way of the world and our own fleshly inclinations. Even our political ideologies, whatever they may be, test our allegiance to the cross; the tension found there leads us to sometimes draw connections to our faith where there is actually spiritual dissonance. We look to the world to support God’s Word, when we should really be looking to Jesus to reshape our lives and direct our steps here. How do we find clarity in the midst of so much confusion? We must start by listening to what God has to say about how we should live.
In Mark chapter 4, the word “hear” is used thirteen times. In one of His prolific speeches, Jesus outlines the work of the kingdom of God, saying that is comparable to sowing seeds. Jesus, in an effort to distinguish Himself from those who oppose Him (Mark 3), shares a parable to express His intentions for His forthcoming kingdom. The parable envisions different soils, different environments, where the seed of faith is left to grow: some places where the seed does not take root; some where seeds are taken away by birds; some with rocky soil where the seeds are choked by thistles and thorns; and some where the seed takes root and is nourished by good soil. Despite the variation in terrain, the seeds of faith that take root in good ground produce “fruit that increased, thirty, sixty and a hundred times” (Mark 4:8).
The parable begins with us listening and concludes with us hearing. What do we need to hear? The seed serves as a representation of the Word of God (Mark 4:13). The common denominator is that, despite the variation in terrain, the Word of God serves as the most important component. Because the Word of God is the essential tool for spiritual growth, we are without excuse. Many times, we neglect to start because we are afraid of rejection and failures by our preconceived thoughts about the soil’s potential.
The seed parable explains that it is God’s Word that will sprout, multiply, and grow fruit. We must remove ourselves from the burden of transformation because transformation is God’s work. We plant seeds and then pray that “anyone who has ears to hear [would] listen” (Mark 4:9). The faithfulness of the sower displays the commitment to continuing to spread seeds, even amongst the varying terrains. We are called to be faithful wherever we are because we serve as undercover agents wherever we are. From the boardroom to the carpool line, we are to be found faithful sharing the Word of God.
The parable of the sower is coupled with the paradox of putting a light under a bushel. If we have been given the gift of illumination in the midst of darkness, we have the responsibility of sharing it with those who remain in the shadows. Just as the sower shares the seeds, Christ-followers are invited to illuminate every space we occupy. We are not the transformers, but we do bear the obligation of sharing the liberating and transformative witness of Jesus Christ. We are not measured by accomplishments and accolades, but being faithful to the One who has changed our lives comes with a responsibility to share the gospel with others.