Today, I want to focus on Chan's questions regarding the parable of the soil. In the book, he states: "For years I struggled with the parable of the soils. I wanted to know if the person representing the rocky soil is saved, even though he has no roots. I then wondered about the thorny soil: Is this person saved since he does have root?" p. 85 (For those that might not be familiar, the parable of the soils is found in all three of the synoptic gospels: Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-34 and Luke 8:4-18.)
In this parable, the seed represents the Word of God. The rocky soil represents those of us that receive the Word with joy when we hear it, but it never takes root. We might believe for a while, but we fall away in times of temptation. The thorny soil represents those who have heard; however, as they go on their way, they are choked with the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life... bearing no fruit. So, I guess what begs the question here is whether the simple acts of HEARING and ACCEPTING are enough. There are as many opinions on this subject as there are Books in the Bible... probably more. I have my own opinion, but quite honestly, my opinion doesn't matter... (please, don't tell my husband that I admitted this!) I think Chan has the right idea. Each of us needs to read the Gospels over... or maybe for the first time... with a new set of eyes... paying attention to the life Jesus calls us to live.
Chan goes on to make a very interesting observation: "We're willing to make changes on our lives only if we think it affects our salvation. This is why I have so many people ask me questions like, Can I divorce my wife and still go to heaven?" p. 86. Here are some of the other questions: Do I have to be baptized to be saved? Am I a Christian even though I'm having sex with my girlfriend? If I commit suicide, can I still go to heaven?... This one is the most convicting to me: If I'm ashamed to talk about Christ, is He really going to deny knowing me? But, let's take it a step further. How many of us hold on to some sin... whether it's something we actively do or something we hold in our heart (hatred, unforgiveness)... using the excuse, that we aren't perfect, to rationalize our unwillingness to let go of whatever is keeping us from having a closer relationship with Christ? I'll admit that I'm doing that exact thing right now! I have some pretty harsh feelings towards my husband's family right now... and harsh is a severe understatement. My husband asked me this weekend to be the better person and in a very subtle way, asked me to "get over it." Now, the right response would have been for me to spend time in prayer, asking God to soften my heart. But, what was my response... "Just because I'm a Christian doesn't mean that I'm perfect... and if this is my imperfection...sobeit!" Nice, huh?
So, getting back to Chan, does this mean that I'm not a Christian? Of course not! It does mean that I'm not perfect... and none of us are. But, more importantly, it means that I am being blatantly disobedient to what God has asked of me. I think the difference here is that this is only one aspect of my life... a life that, for the most part, is constantly moving towards Christ... even if it's only baby steps sometimes. While this disobedience could be seen by some as hypocritical... or lukewarm... it does not define my entire walk in faith... thank you, Lord! HOWEVER... this doesn't let me off the hook either. I am accountable for all of my action, all of my thoughts, despite my imperfections. (Which means I'll need to spend some time in prayer about my in-laws!) For the purposes of this segment, I think Chan wants us to look at our motives. Are we verbally confessing our lives to Christ simply for the promise of SOMETHING after this life... life fire insurance. Or are we committing our lives to Him, His teachings? Confessing and committing are two different thing... and in order to truly follow Him, we MUST do both!
Spend some time the next couple of days reading over the Matthew, Mark, Luke or John... or maybe all of them! Approach it with fresh eyes. What does Christ reveal to you?