As I am writing this, we are gearing up for one of my preferred Fall festivities: high school football. Tomorrow, flag football begins at our church. This afternoon, Jason and I watched NFL Live on ESPN. Earlier today a replay of a college game from last night was on the television for background noise as Jason did Greek homework, and I straightened up the house. If you haven’t guessed by now, we like football. One of my favorite things about football is that it has become a ministry for our family. This may sound crazy at first, but it is true. Jason coached (I was his assistant quite often) Upward football teams when we lived inKentucky, and he chaplained the high school football team. Our involvement with the Upward Christian football league for children inspired us to begin our own spin off here in Walnut Springs. Jason announces the high school games here, and I help. I also sing the National Anthem sometimes. Even televised football games have become opportunities to build relationships and mentor as high school students and even adults gather at our home. We have taken something we enjoy and have used it as a chance to connect with and invest in those around us. I do not say this to boast. Jason and I both know that the only thing good about us is Jesus. I say it instead to address an issue that I have often heard people say they struggle with. They simply do not know how to serve Jesus. They do not feel called to a certain area of ministry. Sadly, I have seen many become discouraged and slowly leave the church behind because they do not know where they fit in.
Let’s take our example from Jesus. Some of my favorite passages in God’s Word are parables. They are stories about everyday life. The Lord used them to teach the people because they could relate to them quite easily. He knew His audience, and He engaged them with the Gospel. Take the parable of the sower, for example. In Matthew 13:3-9, we find the story of the sower. Jesus is teaching from a boat in the sea because the crowds are so large (verse two). “Then He told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears should listen!'” In verses 18-23, Christ goes on to explain the parable’s meaning to the disciples. “‘You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground–this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now the one sown among the thorns–this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground–this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.'”
Note the beginning of verse three; the sower goes out to sow. He was intentional about sharing the Good News. He made a point to share the Gospel. This is pivotal because many of us do not ever take the time to share His Word. Yet, Scripture is clear that we are supposed to. Verse four says, “As he was sowing…” The picture I get in my mind is of a man with a bag on his shoulder full of seed. He reaches in, and throws out a handful of seed. He is not in charge of growing the seed himself. His job was just to get the seed out; to make sure it was sown. Now, the parable tells us what happens to the seed that was sown. Jesus describes different environments. There is a path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil. The sower is sowing in all these areas. He isn’t going to one group of people and sharing the Gospel. No, the Gospel is inclusive. It is for everyone, and we are to tell it to everyone.
Praise God that Jesus explains the parable. Too often people try to read into the text things that are not there and simply do not fit the context or the theology of Christ. Here, we do not have to wonder. Jesus says that Satan comes and takes away the Word from those who do not understand it. Like wiping a chalk board clean, he removes it from their heart. Those are the ones who Jesus described as the path. He tells the disciples that the rocky ground are those people who accept the Word when they hear it, but there is no root of the Gospel in their lives. They do not have a foundation or background of the Word. Thus, when their family and friends come against them because of their new faith, Scripture says they stumble. People who are concerned with the worries of life here on earth and making money do not hear the Gospel and allow it to change their life. Instead, they remain focused on themselves because verse twenty-two tells us that the Word is unfruitful in their lives; it doesn’t grow. Finally, Christ says something quite significant about the good soil. There will be those who hear the Gospel and understand it. They will take it to heart, and it will change their life. Others will see they have been changed because they will bear fruit. They will live for Christ. Now, Jesus says that their works will be different. Some people will yield 100, others 60, and still others 30 times what was sown. We choose how much we want to work for the Lord. It is up to us.
Now, what does the parable of the sower have to do with football? For Jason and me, everything. We are sowing as we go. Football may not be something you like, but there is something you are passionate about. Maybe it’s cooking, horseback riding, photography, or the family. You can use your interest to share the Gospel with all people. God may call you to a specific area of ministry such as music, missions, or women’s ministry, but He has already called you to the greatest task: sharing His saving message with everyone. You have a certain area of influence right where you are. You have friends and family that you have a relationship with like no one else. You have the perfect setting, the perfect soil for sowing the seed of salvation. So, go out and be the sower to those cheerleaders you coach. Sow it on the ground of those you are in a book club with. Wherever and to whomever, share the greatest story ever told. It will change your life, and it may change theirs. Just remember that you are not in charge of what the seed does. You are the sower. You are responsible for sowing the seed. May the Lord always find us sharing the Gospel, and may it fall on good soil. God bless!