Close to where I grew up, there was a massive dairy farm. It was a beautiful piece of real estate. Hundreds of acres of rolling hills covered with the prettiest green grass – I guess dairy cows make good grass! Across the landscape, you could see little black and white specks as the cows grazed – busy making milk. I remember going home a few years ago and finding out that the farmer no longer grew milk – he only grew grass. He had turned his dairy farm into a sod farm. Still, there was lots of green grass, just without the black and white specks.
Now, to be quite honest, I don’t know how sod farmers survive. It turns out that growing grass is hard work. Trust me – I know. If you haven’t noticed, our church now has a beautiful, green front lawn where we once had a barren wasteland of red clay. Getting there wasn’t easy. It took a couple of days of grading, ten dump-truck loads of compost, and the application of several hundred gallons of a special soup made just for us – full of mulch, fertilizer, glue, and millions of Bermuda grass seeds. Oh, and water. Lots of water. Somewhere around 3,000 gallons of water per day.
Believe it or not – Jesus must’ve known a little something about agriculture. Where the seed was sprayed on the parking lot – nothing grew. Where the seed was sprayed on rocks, nothing grew. Where the seed was sprayed in the briars out near the edge of the yard – nothing grew. But where the seed was sprayed in the rich black soil that was trucked in, grass has grown like crazy! That’s just what Jesus said would happen in Mark 4.
There’s just one catch – Jesus wasn’t talking about agriculture, he was talking about evangelism. While there are numerous lessons to learn from Jesus’ instruction, one in particular that comes to mind – sowing is hard work. Preparing fallow ground to bear a crop is painstaking. Removing rocks is tedious. Pulling thorns is downright bloody. But if we want a crop, we must sow, and if we want to sow, we must prepare the soil. To prepare the soil, we must have motivation.
Truth be told, our motivation to make the investment in our church’s front yard was from the outside. We were having erosion problems and were being bad neighbors. The county government even sent us a letter suggesting that we remedy the problem. So we did. The farmer in Jesus’ parable was motivated by hunger. Aren’t all farmers ultimately motivated by hunger? Whether he consumed the yield, or sold it, it would ultimately be used to feed his family.
I wonder what motivation is needed for us so that we might get busy sowing gospel seeds in our community? What motivation could be so compelling that we would dirty our hands moving rocks and bloody our fingers pulling briars? What motivation would be so stirring that we would immediately put our hands to the plow, breaking up the fallow soil?
Is Jesus’ command to sow gospel seeds enough motivation? Jesus did say that we are to take the good news to the ends of the earth. Apparently that is not enough motivation for us today because we are having a difficult time sowing gospel seeds in our own neighborhoods – much less to the ends of the earth.
In my opinion, we don’t sow because we’re not hungry. We have grown accustomed to a fast food faith where someone else prepares our meals. And in doing so, we have forgotten how good it tastes to feast on the fruit born from the sacrifice and hard work of sowing seed. Instead of enjoying the yield of what we’ve sown, we just go through the drive thru. We’ve developed into a fat and happy gathering, and my prayer is that God might make us hungry again.