Seeds of Love Have Been Sown In You
By Beth Demme
I know many people who have beautiful stories about their conversion to Christianity. I love those stories! However, I don’t have a story like that. Not exactly.
Because I grew up in the church, I don’t have a day circled in red on the calendar that marks my “before Jesus” and “after Jesus” time. My whole life has included faith, belief, and Christian practices.
Even though I grew up in church, there was a time when I didn’t understand what it meant to be loved unconditionally by God.
I thought God loved me the way I loved other people. I didn’t love people who hurt me or rejected me. I only loved those who loved me first. I offered conditional love, and I assumed God did the same.
There’s a wonderful verse in Ephesians that says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may … grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)
For a long time, I did not grasp this or even know to reach for it.
To be rooted in the love of Christ, we first need a seed. In the parable of the Sower, Jesus describes sowing seed in four different kinds of soil. (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) Thinking about this parable helped me see that throughout my life my spiritual soil has changed. I think at different times I’ve had all four kinds of soil.
In the parable, there is one sower and one seed, the only variable is the condition of the soil. The seed is sown on a hard path (Matthew 13:4), rocky ground (Matthew 13:5), thorny ground (Matthew 13:7), and, finally, healthy soil (Matthew 13:8).
I feel like I’ve heard this parable preached on a lot. That might be because it’s included in the Revised Common Lectionary and comes around every three years. Or maybe it’s because this is one of the few parables Jesus explains. Or maybe it’s because this parable is in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15). Maybe that’s why I’ve heard it preached on so often. I hope that is why, but I worry it’s popular for preaching because it can be used to categorize people by their spiritual soil. Have you heard it spoken about in that way?
What if you read this parable as if it were only about y-o-u? Would that change its meaning for you?
It changed it for me. Reading it that way made it more meaningful.
I know there have been times when Jesus was trying to sow seeds of love, but my heart was a hard path. Other times, the seeds produced small flowers that withered quickly because they had no roots. And still, other times when it seemed like there would be a harvest, the thorns choked out the healthy plants.
When the soil was finally healthy, the seeds took root. I took root. I began to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
I’ve been living loved ever since.
I don’t think of my life as “before Jesus” and “after Jesus,” but I had a point where I understood God’s love in a deeper, more personal way. It wasn’t a moment of conversion, exactly, and I can’t mark it on a calendar, but I know it happened. The seeds took root and a faith that is beautiful and healthy bloomed.
What about you? Do you live like a person who is loved? Do you grasp how wide and long and high and deep Christ’s love for you is? Does the Parable of the Sower help or only make it more confusing? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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