Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 13:18-23(NASB)
18 "Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Eileen used this passage for an impromptu devotional yesterday at ECHO. However, my mind was thinking of another, slightly heterodox, analogy from this passage; do we need to change what we're planting or how we're planting in the rocky or weedy soil? Looking at yesterday's trip, we saw plants that did well in dry climates and others that thrived in a minimum of soil and others that were great for rooftop gardens. Not that we can change the Gospel itself in order for it to thrive, but we can change the manner in which it is presented. For instance, post-modern mindsets have been addressed around the Christian blogosphere as of late, people who place a premium on relationship, relevance and experience. For them, churches that are more cell-based, where one-on-one relationships are stressed, would work better. In addition, a pomo-friendly church would tend to have more application-based sermons with more stories and less scripture and lean more towards the charismatic emphasis of a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. That doesn't change the basic message that God's perfect, we're not and that Jesus died to bridge that gap, but it changes how it is perceived. Another analogy that struck me was the irrigation system used in arid areas, where a slow drip of water was piped to the roots of the plant, minimizing evaporation of water. In spiritually-arid countries, friendship evangelism works well, applying an slow but steady drip of the Gospel rather than the water-bucket of a crusade that evaporates quickly. This also addresses the need to garden the crop, for new church plants will need a lot of watering and pruning. A third area that impressed me was appropriate technology, being able to use common throw-away items like tires or pop cans (our tour guide was from Minnesota originally, so he said it right) for containers rather than more expensive equipment. That would translate to using parts of local culture where it isn't in conflict with the Gospel. Music in the local popular form is helpful, as are examples from local culture in preaching/talking about the Gospel. Jesus used a lot of agricultural metaphors in his teaching, for most people of that day were farmers. Today, that isn't true, since only 2 or 3% of Americans are farmers. However, we can learn a lot from those metaphors in how to present the Gospel.

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