The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23) directs our attention to the soil in which seeds are planted and why some seeds never produce growth and why others may flourish. The foundation of the story is that the sower is spreading good seed. The seeds spread over the soil have the potential to produce good fruit. But what about seed that does not produce good fruit? Is there such a thing?
On Sunday afternoon/evening I was watching the 116th US Open at Oakmont. There was a slight disruption in the broadcast as a rules official made his way over to Dustin Johnson (the leader at the time) on the 12th green. The official notified Dustin that he may, or may not, be assessed a penalty from a slight oscillation of the ball on the 5th green. Keep in mind that when the ball moved Dustin notified the official at that moment and it was determined that he had not done anything to cause to ball to move, so no penalty was assessed.
Something happened between when the original ruling was made and the approach of the rules official later in the round. The notification of a possible penalty planted a seed in the back of Dustin’s mind. That seed took root and followed him for the next 6 holes. In the end Dustin won the US Open even after being assessed a penalty stroke.
I am not entering into the dialogue about whether or not he should have been penalized. However, I am wondering what affect that notification, that seed, had on the final six holes. Dustin made some poor shots along the way. There seemed to be a different demeanor to his normal long stride. His expression transformed. Without knowing for certain, I would say that the seed planted changed his game, it got to him, but he was able to overcome it. His ability to overcome that voice of doubt and question took a lot of energy.
It made me think about how we, as church folk, plant seeds. And further what kinds of seeds do we plant?
Imagine for a moment that something new is started at the church. There will always be voices of doubt. When those voices are raised and planted into the minds of folks trying to accomplish the new ministry it “changes the game”. It takes the workers more energy to overcome the growth of the seed of doubt that it does to accomplish the ministry. Seeds of doubt have the power to end the ministry before it even starts. My word of advice is this, “Before we go planting seeds of doubt, ask yourself why you don’t want to change or don’t want the ministry to succeed.” Often times those seeds of doubt have more to say about us than they ever do about what is changing.
Imagine for a moment that the denomination is divided on an issue, any issue. Searching for a way to stay united is an extremely challenging task. As if it isn’t challenging enough there are voices being raised saying “It can’t be done,” “we are already divided,” or “I don’t have anything to say to ‘those’ people that disagree with me.” These are seeds being planted that render the work toward unified ministry even harder to accomplish. They have the potential to create a mindset of “why bother.” My word of advice is this, “If you want the church to be divided, and thus weaker, plant these seeds. If you truly want unity and to find a way forward, then ask yourself why you would plant such negative seeds.”
I wonder why there is such a propensity to plant negative seeds than to offer an encouraging word, a positive seed. On Sunday I was upset that Dustin’s dream could have been taken away from the planting of doubt in his mind. And that is just a round of golf! Imagine what God sees when the church plants seeds of doubt and negativity in one another’s mind. If our goal is to transform the world, then let’s speak as if everything we do, everything we attempt, and everything way we seek to find is from God and speak of it in a positive way.
I believe in you! I know that when empowered by the Holy Spirit and working hand in hand, God is going to accomplish something great!