"Soil the foil" - my clever title for a new takeaway from Jesus’ very familiar “Parable of the Sower” in Mark 4 that I read this week.
Foil, not the aluminum kind but the “prevent something from succeeding” version. If something won’t grow, the soil is a good place to start looking for solutions.
I’m having difficulty growing new grass on a particular area of our lawn. Even though I raked some new topsoil into the spot and planted brand new seed, growth is not happening despite new grass growing robustly in immediately adjoining areas.
Jesus would probably advise, “Your soil needs an upgrade.”
I’m going to buy some compost today and start over. With some babying of the area over the next few weeks, perhaps I'll be rewarded with better results. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, we participate in Grace's Acre, a community vegetable garden hosted by our church. Thanks to nutrient-rich soil, lush, robust growth is already yielding lettuce, spinach and herbs with many other vegetables well on the way.
Wish I knew more about the underlying “soil” conditions of people I’ve shared the gospel with over the years but who are reluctant about, or clearly resist accepting Jesus’ invitation to let him take the lead in their lives.
Could it really be as simple as Jesus claims? That new life flourishes in good soil but falters in soil that lacks essential makeup and/or conditions?
I recently met a guy who was raised in a good church lead by a rather renowned pastor who happened to live next door. His mother is a ministry leader of a large evangelical church.
He is a good guy as far as I can tell - married, respected at work but despite having been raised in apparently “good soil,” he admits to lapsed church attendance. By way of explanation, he dismissively recalls the church experiences of his youth as boring.
Each morning, his radio listening features personalities who specialize in being offensive, lewd and shocking. When I tried to engage with him about it, he pushed back with, “It’s no big deal, just harmless humor. People who object should change the channel.”
Hard to be too judgmental here since I’ve given a similar answer to questionable influences I allow into my life that I have also defended as no big deal - influences that "foil my soil," so to speak - Like Jesus’ warning about sowing seed in rocky or thorny places. (Mark 4: 16-19)
Don’t know for sure but it seems he’s received good “Gospel seed” that failed to flourish. Conversely, I marvel and am constantly grateful for the Gospel taking root in my life.
Like my new friend, I believe I had good soil conditioning as well but was particularly blessed with good timing - having a memorable encounter with the Lord when I was particularly receptive. Still, nothing obvious about me makes me a better candidate than others who resist the Gospel.
Continuing with the soil analogy, I attribute some of the best ingredients of my faith now to the nutrient-rich soil where I am planted and live - a believing wife and life partner, a vibrant church family, excellent teaching and leadership, relationships with strong believers who invest time, transparency, prayer and practical support in our lives as we likewise invest in theirs…
Unlike the composition of actual good soil, a person’s “soil conditions” for Gospel rooting is discernible only the Lord himself. We as believers are to simply assist in the sowing while resisting judgment because soil conditions known only to the Lord may become just right at any moment for the gospel to take root and flourish.
So I will keep planting as opportunities to do so present to me. Meanwhile, are you flourishing in your faith? If not, how would you assess your soil conditions?
Might be time for a soil upgrade.