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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The parable of the seeds

At the turn of the 19th century many experts predicted that with modern science and wisdom religion would go the way the horse and buggy eventually would. Yet that didn't happen. In fact, poll after poll shows over 90% of Americans say they believe in Jesus.

I know this isn't a religious blog, yet in the medical field we deal with religion in one way or another on a daily basis, as we deal with death, and end of life preparation, and we see Bibles and religious pamphlets with prayers in most rooms.

I've also made the observation that patients that believe in God are the better patients, at least when it comes to the end of their lives. I think patients who believe in God know this life might end soon, and they may even still get depressed, yet they almost always maintain a pleasant demeanor.

We watch baseball games and see baseball players crossing themselves before stepping to the plate (Pudge Rodriguez did this all the time), and pitchers crossing themselves before they jump up and down to celebrate after throwing the final strike to end a game.

Yet how many of these people who purport to believe in God really BELIEVE in God? It's one thing to say you believe in God, it's yet another actually humble yourself and actually live up to that believe. Are all these folks truly humble?

Recently I've been reading the Bible for the first time since I was a kid, and came across this old parable told by Jesus:
"Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Yet what does this mean? Jesus went on to explain:
"Now listen to the parable of the sower. When a man hears the message of the kingdom and does not grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is like the seed sown by the road-side. The seed sown on the stony patches represents the man who hears the message and eagerly accepts it. But it has not taken root in him and does not last long - the moment trouble or persecution arises through the message he gives up his faith at once. The seed sown among the thorns represents the man who hears the message, and then the worries of this life and the illusions of wealth choke it to death and so it produces no 'crop' in his life. But the seed sown on good soil is the man who both hears and understands the message. His life shows a good crop, a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
So you can see how 90% of Americans can believe in God and yet not truly believe. You can say you believe in God and yet not follow His words. You can cross yourself to your hearts content, and you can read the Bible every day, and yet still not live as though Jesus would like you to.

Are you the person who believes and yet gets burdened by the pressures of life and fights your siblings for land your mother left when she died? Are you the person who expands his business to make extra money at the expense of spending time with your children?

Are you the person who thinks little of other people, and yet at the end of your life you go to church every day in the hopes of getting to Heaven?

I remember as a kid attending catechism classes with 20 other kids, and some of those kids weren't exactly nice to me. They most certainly weren't nice to the teachers, making fun of them any time the opportunity presented itself.

I'd like to think I'm growing a crop of 100 times what is sown, yet it's difficult to know for sure. I'm certainly humble. I don't earn more than I need. I'd like to think I spend quality time with my kids. I'm not a material person like my neighbors. I appreciate history and what little I have. I try to be wise, yet I know I know so little.

I'd like to think I'm one who should get to Heaven. And yet Jesus also says that the doorway to Heaven is narrow, while the doorway to hell is wide. So it's easy to become like everyone else. It's easy to become a material person. You could be a material person and not even realize it.

I could be wrong. You could be wrong. We all could be wrong. Yet we are all sinners, and those of us who try the hardest will continue to be unprofitable servants.

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