“The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” – Mark 4:26-27
The first house my wife and I bought was outside of Rockford, Illinois. It had a big yard with lots of trees, and best of all it had a perfect place to plant a vegetable garden. Never mind that neither one of us had ever planted a vegetable garden before. Ignorance rarely stops us from trying something new.
So, we roto-tilled the ground and planted corn and tomatoes and potatoes and beans. And we planted cucumbers. I like cucumbers and I thought it would be nice to have fresh cucumbers in our salads. Someone told me that in order to plant cucumbers you build up a few dirt mounds and drop some seeds in. So I did. I built up five or six little dirt mounds and dropped fifteen or twenty seeds into each mound. If you’ve ever planted cucumbers before you now know where this story is going.
What I didn’t know is just how prolific cucumber plants are. Within four weeks those cucumber plants had taken over the entire garden. Within eight weeks the vines were everywhere, and so were the cucumbers. They had climbed our back steps. They had crept through our neighbor’s fence. Cucumbers were growing in the window wells of our basement. There were cucumbers everywhere! I got so irritated toward the end of the summer that I took out my lawnmower and took great sadistic pleasure in running over those cucumbers and watching them explode out of the mower’s shoot. I later discovered that that was a really bad idea. All I did was spread cucumber seeds everywhere.
In the Kingdom of God you and I are called to sow seeds of God’s love. God is responsible for the growth, which liberates us to sow freely and liberally. We forgive those who don’t deserve it. We love those who won’t return our love. We serve those who may never know what we’ve done or thank us for it. We bear witness to our faith among people who are likely to reject it. That’s how Jesus walked. Those are the footsteps we follow.
For many of us in the Lutheran tribe bearing witness to our faith is the most challenge seed to sow. With enough coffee flowing through our system we might invite someone to church, but bear witness to our faith? What would we say? What if we said the wrong thing? Isn’t that a job best left to people who went to seminary?
No, it isn’t. The New Testament book of 1 Peter challenges all of us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Are you prepared? If not, ponder these three questions this week:
- What do you believe? What is the “content” of your faith?
- Why do you believe it?
- What difference has your faith made in your life?
There are no right or wrong answers. There are only your answers. But I want to challenge you this week to get clear about your answers. Because the world around you is filled with fertile soil just waiting for a seed to be planted. So go and sow, and trust that your witness has power because of the One to whom you bear witness – Jesus. And then leave the growth to God.
Into whose life will you sow this week?
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.