“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed." Mark 4:3
Jesus used the illustration of farming to help his disciples understand how to evangelize more effectively. It's a powerful metaphor for how we can effectively sow seeds and see results. So what can a farmer teach us about evangelism? At least three things...
1. The purer the seed the more the results.
It's a basic law of farming...Pure seed = strong harvest.
According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department “The use of good quality seed is a prerequisite for the satisfactory production of a good quality crop and is essential for export markets. The following points should be taken into account when considering seed quality:Trueness to type (often referred to as variety purity), Freedom from other materials, including plant debris, dead or broken seeds, seeds of other crops, weed seeds, noxious and parasitic weed seeds also non-plant materials., Freedom from seed-borne pests and diseases.”
Too many times too many gospel presentations contain debris, weeds and pesticides. They have subtle strands of works protruding from them upon which a lost person's flesh can hold on to for self-salvation. This grace + works hybrid is confusing at best and damning at worst. Paul was so against sowing this brand of seed he wrote these words to his fellow farmers in Galatians 1:8, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!"
He is basically saying, "I don't care if Michael the Archangel himself starts sowing gospel seeds that are not up to par, or even me or Luke or Timothy...reject those bad seeds!"
If we keep our gospel message pure by focusing on what Jesus has done for us and not what we must do for him, then we will have a bigger and better harvest. Salvation is a free gift made possible by God's grace when we simply trust in Jesus to save us based on his death in our place for our sins. This reality is what makes a seed good, pure and productive.
Pure seed = Strong harvest.
2. Go for the growers and pray for the others.
"Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:20
When you share the gospel some people will reject it (like those seeds that land on the pathway in Mark 4), others will seem to accept it but fizzle out it in the end (like the seeds that land on the hard ground and weeds.) But there will be some that accept it and begin to multiply the message to those around them ("...some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.")
So as the "sower" what do you do? You focus on those who grow and you pray for those who don't. As somebody who works with youth leaders across the nation through Dare 2 Share I see so many invest the bulk of their time trying to win over those teenagers who are on hard or weedy ground. If those same youth leaders focused cultivating the seeds that are ready to grow they would have infinitely more impact.
That's what Jesus did. He ministered to the crowds but invested his life into the disciples. The result was a harvest that exploded globally (see the book of Acts.)
3. Keep chucking seeds.
Our job as salvation sowers is to keep chucking seeds. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:6,7,"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."
We chuck seeds and water them but God makes them grow. We share Christ and teach truth but God brings forth the increase.
With this reality in mind, how faithful are you when it comes to chucking seeds? When's the last time you grabbed a handful and threw them into your neighborhood, school or workplace? Share the good news. Spread the good seed. Do it with love, gentleness and respect and watch those little seeds begin to grow.
Let's get chucking!