By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“And the seeds sown in the good soil stand for those who hear the message and understand it: they bear fruit, some as much as one hundred, others sixty, and others thirty.” — Mathew 13:23
Last of three parts
Students as Thorny Soil
Furthermore, in yet another way, God’s Word is heard. It sinks into the life of a student or a person who has heard it. That Word means something; its message is living and vital and relevant. But, like some seeds in the Parable, it falls among thorny bushes and vigorous weeds, which choke the plant to prevent healthy growth and harvest. Jesus describes these thorns as worries and riches and pleasures. They are the weeds which so vigorously and quickly choke out God’s Word.
We all have worries: the concerns of family, of health and of the future; the difficulties of coping with the demands and pressures of life; the so many problems affecting the church and society, our OFW’s in Libya trapped in a civil war; our compatriots in New Zealand trapped in the ravage of a devastating earthquake. How easily such worries can take over the center of our lives, choking out God’s Word with all its promises, so that there is no more growth and fruits.
Then, there is the matter of riches: We need money to live; its purchasing power enables us to enjoy many wonderful things in life. But all too subtly we can begin to focus our energies on accumulating wealth.
In our extension class in Tabuk, Kalinga, some of our students said that one of the main reasons why very few young people enter the Christian ministry is because of the very small financial support that pastors received from the church.
Similarly, in the recently concluded seminar-workshop we conducted in Umingan, Pangasinan, at least three former deaconesses testified that they shifted to teaching in the public schools because of the very low salary in the church. Of course, there are also those people who made use of religion to become millionaires or even billionaires.
Riches then become a curse. They can become such an obsession and take up so much of our time and thinking that they choke God’s Word and stifle our joy in our true and eternal treasures in life. The prevalence of graft and corruption in our government as well as church institutions testifies to this fact. As a result, there is no growth or fruit in our Christian life.
Pleasures also can be a problem. We all like to be happy; we all need rest and recreation, and holidays are often necessary. We would like to enjoy ourselves while studying in the Seminary. Sometimes we would like to do here in the Seminary what we cannot do in our church assignment. Sometimes we enjoy our vices, and thus, we are no longer fit to listen and to receive God’s Word through our teachers and mentors.
Jesus’ Parable of the Soil calls us to do some serious self-introspection so that worries, riches and pleasures – natural and good though many of them are – do not crowd out God’s Word and its potential for a good and fruitful ministry.
Student as Fertile Soil
Finally, we can say that Jesus’ Parable of the Soil is a story of wastage. Though the Sower faithfully does his sowing, and though the seeds fall on the ground, many seeds do no bear fruit or bring a good harvest. One could hardly blame the Sower if he became disillusioned and gave up sowing.
But this is precisely the miracle and message of the Parable: Though there is much wastage, the Sower continues to sow because he knows that there is always some fertile soil. Though there are students who quit in their studies, which may be a waste of time, efforts, and resources, still we continue to teach and preach God’s Word; still we continue to equip students for the ministry, because we know for sure that there are always students who are like the fertile soil.
Much of God’s Word falls on infertile and unfruitful soil, where many things work against it and prevent it from being effective. Yet God’s Word continues to be taught and proclaimed because here and there, now and then, God finds fertile soil. Just as seeds in good soil grow up and produce grain, God’s Word that is heard by some is retained in a good and obedient heart and produces the desired fruit.
That’s what fertile soil is: a good and obedient heart. That’s what God wants us to have, and that’s what we need to pray for. We need to have a good and obedient heart, a heart in which there is no deceit, which is genuine, which wants to be right with God, and therefore longs to receive God’s Word of love.
God’s Word must be obeyed. It is not enough to hear it and learn it; we must also do it. Jesus said: Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. And James also said: Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. By God’s grace, may we have the courage and persistence to live God’s Word, to put it into practice, and to do what it says. Then there will be fruit-bearing. Slowly but surely, God’s Word will produce the fruits of faith.
And so, how do we assess ourselves after this whole year of listening to God’s Word being taught and proclaimed, equipping ourselves for the ministry. What kind of students are we? What kind of soil are we? Are we the footpath, the rocky soil, the thorny soil, or the fertile soil?
It is our hope and prayer that all of us should aspire to be like the fertile soil, receiving God’s Word and retaining it in our good and obedient heart. And let it grow and bear fruits in our Christian life and ministry. And may God bless us all. Amen. # nordis.net