I was reading Mark 4 this morning, and I came across this little gem, starting in verse 27:
He also said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who spreads seed on the ground. He goes to sleep and gets up, night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. By itself the soil produces a crop, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. And when the grain is ripe, he sends in the sickle because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4: 27-29, NET Bible)
Most of us are familiar with the famous “Parable of the Sower and Seed”, so we know that this little guy has a tough act to follow. Mark’s Gospel is the only one that contains this small story, and it can be easy to just skim over. Encountering it this morning, I found myself thinking, “Isn’t this just a simplified version of what I just read?” Ah, but what if the point of this story is entirely different?
Imagine you ‘re a farmer, and it’s a beautiful spring morning. You’ve planned to plant your seeds for weeks now, and today is the day. So, you scatter and scatter them from dawn until dusk. You mix fertilizer into the soil, check your irrigation system so that the seeds will get enough water; you work hard to ensure an excellent harvest. Then what do you do? You go inside, wash up, and wait. As far as it’s up to you, the conditions that the seeds need to grow have already been perfected. There is literally nothing more you can do to make those seeds grow faster, better, healthier. Let’s face it- there’s no action you can take to make those seeds grow at all. I mean, you can’t dig in there and squeeze some growth out of each seed. You’d feel silly bending over and shouting encouragement at the ground… In reality, you don’t really know what makes those seeds actually do any growing; you just know that they grow when you plant them in the right way.
Now let’s draw some parallels. When we tell someone about the Truth of Jesus Christ, His love, His saving power, His transforming work… are we doing the real work of growing that person into a follower of Christ? We are not, and in fact we cannot. People don’t change people- God changes people. Once the seed is planted, so to speak, there is literally nothing we can do to change a person’s heart and mind but ask God to work. To be clear, we as followers of Christ are certainly not off the hook. Scripture commands us to make disciples and there is certainly work involved with obeying this command. But there comes a point at which we must “let go and let God”. Let’s ask ourselves what is better – a “salvation” achieved through our convincing efforts, or a salvation that unfolds in a person’s heart because of the power of the Holy Spirit, in His time. Let’s plant the seeds of the Gospel faithfully and in the right ways, confident in God’s power at work.