As we prepare ourselves to look at the characteristics of a lukewarm Christian, I want us to take a moment to review the parable of the sower. As a quick overview for those that might not be familiar: As the sower is planting the seed (which represents the Word of God), we see several different scenarios. First, a seed is flung onto a path and stolen away (which represents us hearing the Word, but, for whatever reason, it doesn't take root). Then a seed is tossed into a rocky place with a little amount of soil, but, again, the roots never take hold. (Chan writes, "[t]here is the appearance of depth and growth because of the good soil, but it is only surface level"... firm roots can never take hold because the soil is so shallow). When the seed is spread among the thorns, it is suffocated. (This suffocation represents the worries of life.) However, when the seed is sown in good soil "it grows, takes root and produces fruit."
This all makes since, but read and listen carefully to the warning that Chan places before all of us:
"My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. I think most American church goers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it... A lot of things are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God. I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil." p. 67
I will be the first to admit that I've wrongly considered myself "good soil" for a long time. Maybe it was more about convincing myself that I was "good enough" soil. I'll compare myself to the soil in the vegetable garden at my house. It's good enough to grow crab grass and weeds, but any attempt to actually harvest a vegetable crop has yielded mutant carrots (that only grow one inch deep because of the clay soil), or malnurished greens... the type you find at the discount counter at the grocery store. Pretty pathetic. Sure, I could eat the stuff, but would I really want to? Of course not! To bring it full circle... I want the fruits of my faith planted in the best soil possible (Miracle Grow, cow manure, organic compost...whatever!) But the first step we must all take is the one we dread the most... WEEDING! We have to remove all the things from our soil that are inhibiting us from bearing the fruits of our faith... weeds, thorns, whatever the poison. This is the first step we must take... and now is a good time to take it.
The next 6 weeks are all about weeding. I'm not going to lie... this could be hard, even painful, for some of us. The roots of our weeds can be very long, tangled and deeply embedded. Spend some time this weekend in prayer, preparing your hearts for the weeks ahead.
Also finish watching the rest of Chan's sermon. Start back up at 23:01. At the very end of the video, he asks us to pray three specific prayers. Spend some time thinking about those prayers. They can be extremely powerful.