08 enero 2009

Part One: The Wayside

The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4: 3-20)


God's word is never deficient: if the heathen preach it, if hypocrites quote it, if we ignorant cling to it, it can still be profitable for all things, provided... the Holy Spirit ministers it. The profit is in the interaction between the Holy Spirit-as-word-carrier and the recipient's heart/mind/soul.

Of course, an un-Spirit-controlled preacher is just poking around in the dark with his presentation of Scripture and his speech on what it all should mean to us. He cannot depend on any sort of supernatural happening. He preaches with his own natural [fleshly] interpretation/ application and his trust is in man's wisdom and will power. Only God's stubborn assertion to be glorified- to cover the earth with knowledge of Himself as water the sea- does anything.

But what about the hearer? What's my obligation? How not to be a hearer only, but a doer of the word? How to have fruit in yourself (some 100 fold) from the seed of God? And, ever so urgently, how to work the soil in the little ones for the Holy Spirit's cultivation?


Part One: The Wayside

"Some seed fell on the wayside;
and the birds of the air came and devoured it."

What, praytell, is a wayside? It's soil not for walking on or planting. It's just there. The fringes, the edge, the outside of usefulness. No one cares for it, watches over it, esteems it arable land. The seeds falls by chance. It is not planted. There's no cautious famer or even a scarecrow watching over it, scaring off predators. This soil- I mean, soul- is neglected and being nothing stronger than dust, is defenseless. Anyone, from crows to possums to coyotes to the enemy of our souls, has free run.

No one expects this land, this soul, to do much of anything, let alone bear fruits worthy of repentance. No one eagerly searches for the first hint of green to push through its dark cover. No one thinks of this person in spiritual terms at all. No one waters their soul with their tears. No one loses sleep to hold vigil over it. The soul is not precious; no one sees possibilities. This soul is not worthy of our attention, let alone our care.

If they receive the word, it's accidental. These souls are the birds' domain; small wonder scavengers eat the word, when they have eaten everything else they can find. You see, scavengers do pay attention to the wayside. A small scarecrow might have been enough. Passersby, waving their hands every now and then and raising their voice a bit might have changed the whole course of this parable. A hopeful, slightly ridiculous farmer seeing possibility where others see only a gutter might have found a great increase in his crop- more arable land than he had previously calculated! Scripture never says there was anything wrong with the soil... except that it was by the wayside. The bird just happened to get to it before any quixotic farmer could.

Souls like so... resides in maybe the majority of our nation's teenagers. The public school system tries to make sure they're educated little neglected souls, but that's generally going by a very loose definition of "educated" and a very clueless definition of "soul." Whole ghettos are filled with them. They're not totally ignored; they are a huge market and voting block. When sellers or politicians need them, they send an custom-made ad their way, individualized to their age group and social preferences. Whole countries are inhabited by them. They're not totally inconsequential; wars start because of them; building blow up because of them. Demons have plenty of use for worthless souls. The wayside... so ignorable! All over the place, as common as electric poles you don't even see anymore.

Moving this discussion a little closer to us than the ghetto or Gaza... the birds likewise consume the word from our children's undefended souls. [And by "our," i mean, "the blessed Church's."] And what can happen to the little ones can happen to us when careless as well.

But when? When no one provides a comeback for the lies Satan whispers (and sometimes screams), that's when. When the Deceiver is allowed an uninterrupted monologue, any sacred word that might have previously dropped gets eaten like it's hot. Deceptions can be conveniently downloaded by unchaperoned fingers for ¢99 a lie from amazon. (That is, unless the devil is being competative and provides the little ones with more than one lie per song.) "On" buttons can deliver a steady stream of word-eating words until unconciousness drowns them out. Once that's done and the kid is out, the devil can play through the subconscious with all the birds he's let in during the day. So very many words and pretty pictures in glossy magazines and phosphorescent screens can gobble the relevance of the only Word and only Image that can bring cold clay to life. All because there was no scarecrow! There was no expectation! There was no care!

The wayside is when Satan is given permission, opportunity, a platform on which to speak, and he is presented with no rebuttal. The wayside: realities containing no plausability structure wherein Satan can be crushed underfoot and the word flourish. Those birds? Atheism with no Church pointing out the hand of God. Beckoning hedonists with no happy monks around talking about a laudable exchange. A world of "me, myself, and i" with no tangible rebuttal of love.A flickering pseudoworld where no Kingdom of Light seems realistic. Ads promising contentment only a swipe away with no joyful, plastic-less mendicants to grin and demur. A small, sneering voice inside, "No one can jump that high," when there's no one in sight whose feet ever even leave the ground...

... the word is taken away, vaporizes, disintigrates as something impossible, laughable, idealistic, boring, for others, for another world... not for you. We like to hope that "someday" the word will bear fruit on the wayside... but how can it, if it has been consumed with little probability of "accidental" sowing again?

No... nothing besides weeds will ever grow on the wayside . On other soils, yes, we can hope. In the world of edit undo and abnormal farmers, maybe. But as is, the wayside is forever barren. It could have been something great. It could have made a tree so big that birds of the aire came to nest in its shade. But the wayside was ignored, and the seed disappeared, and now the wayside has no hope. I guess the greatest consolation i can offer is at least we aren't the wayside, right... at least no beast's going to eat the word out of our souls, hopefully. Out of our friends', maybe. Out of our nation's, probably. Out of our babies', may God forbid. But out of our souls... no, of course not...


hebrews 2:1-4