Summary: In pursuit of a vision of discipleship, this sermon explores the picture of the church like a greenhouse: growing, nurturing, and transplanting. Concluding with a call to examine the soil of our soul.
Becoming a Greenhouse pt 2: Tour of a Greenhouse
Matt. 13:1-9; 18-23
The Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-9; 18-23):
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear…
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
A Parable of Discipleship:
We often understand this parable as talking about evangelism – as a picture of the Gospel being scattered across the earth, and growing to fruitfulness when it lands on good soil. But as I looked at it more closely, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is actually a parable of discipleship. Here’s why.
In three of the four examples Jesus uses, the seed is “received” and begins to grow. The seed that fell on the “rocky places” is “received with joy.” To interpret, that person expressed faith in Jesus, prayed a prayer of salvation, and would have been reported as “successfully evangelized.” The seed that fell among the thorns also rooted and began to grow. This person also “became a Christian.” And of course, the final seed which yielded a harvest is the third of the four that began to grow.
If three of the four “became Christians,” and if the point of the parable is what happened after that point, I think we can safely conclude that this is a story of discipleship and not primarily evangelism.
So what is this discipleship thing all about?
A Vision For Discipleship:
As I study Scripture, the one constant measure I see of growing discipleship is obedience. Jesus says if we love Him, we’ll obey Him; if we desire to be His disciples, we’ll follow Him. The parable of the sower concludes that the “disciple” is one from whom there is a harvest. The very ideas of faith and trust are meaningless unless they translate into action, in less they effect how you and I live on a daily basis, unless they bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. James writes that faith without actions, by which he means doing the things we are commanded to do, is meaningless. John writes that we know we love God when we look at our lives and see obedience. [reference]
My vision for discipleship in our congregation is that you and I are continually having our lives molded into Christlikeness – we are walking in greater and greater obedience to Jesus. It translates into how we live our lives. See, I believe that if we were each seeking to be as obedient as possible to our Lord, we would truly see His Kingdom becoming a reality in our lives and in our church. We would see our friends and neighbors come to faith in Christ. We would see our worship services filled with joy and deeply meaningful worship to God. All the pieces that God desires to fall into place would be there. Yes, there would be opposition – the devil doesn’t like it when we obey God because he loses his ability to influence us and persuade us to sin – but as we remain obedient even through the opposition we really start to see the fun. We really start to see the power of God moving around us. When we are growing in obedience, we are able to see and experience all of the things that God desires for us.
The Goal of the Greenhouse: