We’re celebrating our graduates on Sunday in our livestream service. Some from grade 8, some from grade 12, others from post secondary education.
When we see their beautiful smiling faces in that slide show, we’re reminded of what we want for them more than anything. We want for them to grow into everything that they were created to be. We hope and pray that they reach their potential. And we know that if that happens, they will be happy and have lives filled with joy and satisfaction.
Jesus tells a parable about how we can grow into everything God created us to be. As parents, friends, and a community that loves our young people, we lean forward to hear words that could make all the difference in the world.
I’ll get there in just a moment. But first I need to point the remarkable ability that Jesus had to talk to people where they were at. To say the least, he was a communicator extraordinaire.
If he was talking to fishermen, he’d have illustrations that all had to do with fishing. "The kingdom of heaven is like a net that is thrown into the water and comes backs laden with fish."
If he was talking to landowners, he’d say “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who rented out his vineyard to wine-growers. When the owner came to collect, the growers refused to pay.”
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
To money people, Jesus said “a master went on a trip, but before he left he gave an amount of money for his servants to invest. How will you invest what you have, he asked them?"
To shepherds, “God is like a shepherd that will look for one lost sheep. And when that lost sheep is found, there is great rejoicing in heaven.”
Today, it’s an important lesson for us. You have to talk to people on their level. As a business, as a professional, as teachers, as tradespeople, and yes, as a church, we have to talk to people in ways they can relate to. If we have any desire to talk to people around us, or, in the case of the church, communicate the Good News of God to people, we have to speak not on an elevated level, but on their level, about things that they can understand.
Here’s the huge take-away. When you talk to people on their level, it shows that you care enough about them to know who they are. It means that you’re not self-absorbed, but other-absorbed.
So, thanks for the lesson Jesus, before the intended lesson even begins.
On to the parable at hand. It's at Matthew, chapter 13. Today, Jesus is talking to farmers. The premise is as simple as simple can be. “As a farmer grows seeds, so God can grow you.”
The seeds are tiny. They begin so small but then produce hundreds of acres of grain. Jesus never uses the word “potential”, but that’s the concept he lays out in front of everyone listening. Today, he makes clear, we’re talking about potential. You need to know how much you are capable of. Things that are vast and huge. Things beyond what you can even dream up for yourself.
How, we ask? And together, we lean forward to hear these words that could change our worlds.
Here’s the beginning of the parable. Jesus is speaking to a huge crowd of people, the text says. And Jesus tells this story about how a farmer is out planting seed. “Some of the seed thrown out by the farmer falls onto a rocky place beside the path.” The farmers in the crowd frown and murmur to themselves “Well, they won’t grow there.”
And Jesus says “You’re right.” “Those seeds are like the person who hears the word, and accepts it with joy, but because he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble comes, or any kind of problem that is a test of resolve, he gets blown away”.
Jesus says “You need to be rooted, to grow your life.” What does he mean "rooted"?
My next blog, on Friday, will have his answer. But, in the meantime, go ahead and read the full parable. What do you think it means to be rooted? Do you agree that successful people need to have a deep root in something good? If so, rooted in what? What role do we have in making sure that happens? What’s at stake if that doesn’t happen?
When you look at the faces of those young graduates. Or, when you look at your own face in the mirror today. Lean forward together, people. It’s too important not to get right.
As is Jesus’ custom, there’s a twist at the end of his story. It turns out this is not just about you and me and the young people in our small corner. Seems there’s a whole lot more depending on us hearing and then believing the answer.