Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something”

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I can think of a handful of people who changed me.  Outside of immediate family that is.  People I met.  People I hadn’t known before or knew after.  Who came into me life and left leaving me changed.  Family I think of – in this context – as the soil, the air, the sun and rain.  But those who enter and leave again – they are sowers of seed.

Jesus is a sower of seed.  The bible is a seed.  Church and church life, all the fellowship, community, programmes and “service” are the environment.

Those people who changed me didn’t know they had or did.  Sowers of seed don’t start with that expectation.  They live with hope.  Hope that something good might come of what they sow.  Hope that some might allow that seed.  Allow a personal fermentation and sprouting.  Because a seed can live for years in a sterile environment.  An environment that keeps a seed a “seed”.  Never taking root, never dying as a seed to become something greater.

Sowers of seed cannot dictate the environment that seed finds.

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I think that is where we struggle with church life and “religion”.  We confuse seeds with environment.  We think we can grow crops, we think we can modify seeds to produce greater fruit, we think we can count the seeds we offered as plants that we grew.  But no one has ever “grown” a seed in me.  I do that.  I am the environment in which a seed lands.  I am a sterile environment or not.  And sometimes seeds can rest within me for years untouched and unnoticed.  Until I am the right place and time for that one small and tiny seed.

For me the bible is a seed.  And when I try and live in that “seed” I confine both myself and the seed.  When I live for the bible and of the bible I don’t become the great big tree in which others live – I become tiny like the seed itself.  Scared of change.  Scared of becoming something bigger than I think I could or should.  Scared of being something that looks different, that smells different, that thinks differently – that is different from the seed.  That must be different if the seed is to be anything other than a “seed”.

I see that same confusion with the coronavirus.  We are scared of change.  Scared of the unknown.  Even when the unknown is not that different to the known: that those who live with less health and greater age live a more precarious life (despite medical science and miracles).  But our usual repressed fear sprouts in such times.  We are scared we might be without.  Scared we might not have all the comforts we regard as essentials.  We remain seeds scared of what might “get us” – scared of all that is outside our comfort zones.  So we withdraw (prep and panic buy) and isolate ourselves (literally in some cases).  We pull-in and focus on “me me me” even more than usual.

That has comparisons with the church life and religion I have known all my life.  Because against all the taught “advice” of a lifetime … the more I don’t read the bible – the more I know the bible.  Just as the more I don’t read all the panic news about coronavirus – the more I know the virus (and I am one with “underlying issues” and “age category” against me).

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Just as against all the taught advice of a cultural-Christian lifetime, the more I don’t go to church the freer I am.

Free of the constrictions of guilt.  The guilt of am I doing enough – am I a good Christian … ?  Free of the constriction of faith – a constriction of believing the same as others  … do I fit-in (so that I can make a difference) … ?  Free of the need for compromise between family-who-won’t/don’t and church-life-that-does/must … How much do I give and to whom and how and when … ?  Free of a diary always being double-booked and massaged …  Free to allow “seeds” to grow as big (and as weirdly) as they allow.

As I allow.

I read that @ 30% of farm produce never makes it off the farm and into our shops.  Wrong shape, wrong, size, wrong “something” … all because it won’t look the same as “proper shaped and correct size” stuff (we do see on the shelves). 

I find that horrifying. 

That we talk about saving the planet and climate change and plastic … yet 30% of the very fuel of life we keep out of sight and discard.   And yet that 30% comes from the same seeds as the “proper and correct” ones.

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The seeds I have allowed make me who I am.

I have no idea if I am of the 30% (wrong) of 70% (correct and proper).  But why is that even relevant?  I am who I am.  And more and more I find the moment to be seeded with all I need. 

For that is where Love lives and growth happens.

If I allow.

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In the name of Jesus! Amen!

I love bread! I love the “artisan“ bread you get at fancy restaurants, fancy hotels, fancy bread shops, anywhere that has fancy bread. Sometimes a knob of cool salted butter, other times oil and balsamic vinegar, sometimes just “bread” … mmm!

And other times I don’t.  I am fickle. If I was an artisan baker I would not like me much – never knowing if I am an appreciative bread eater or not.  Poor artisan baker!!  And something else …

That parable about the sower of seeds and the different “ears” that did and did not “hear” … how come we “good Christians” assume the role of “sower” (or is it just me that does that)?

All the angst and sacrifice and burden – as we sow our seeds – as so much is wasted – as we are scorned – persecuted – laughed at – dismissed – ignored – only a few of our special grains falling on “fertile ground” …  All that hard work and so little reward!

We have that in black and white!

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky … “ Matthew 4:1-20 (link here)

And then – later – the dusty peeps (and we) get a (our) personal reading:

The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables … “ There you have it!  The appointed “sowers of seeds” is there in black and white for us good Christians evermore! “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Over my journey that has bugged me a little (and now a lot) …

Splashing seeds around is easy.  Sowing seeds is writing a blog like this.  Sowing seeds so often becomes a celeb game. Is that why we focus on “sowing seeds” … ? Writing blogs – and maybe books – and maybe selling books – and maybe even being asked to write articles – then maybe even being asked to … and maybe EVEN becoming a minor celeb (or a major one) – and it’s all good – because it’s all “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Whereas making disciples is tough. Making disciples is relationship. Making disciples is a team game.  Making disciples … ?

That happens out of sight. That happens in small groups, silent places, face to face, skin to skin. That happens slowly silently over time and maybe never in my lifetime or yours.  The “payback” is missing: there are never adoring crowds, never any obvious hierarchy, never one leader who will and grateful pupils who do.  Maybe for Jesus (who just happens to be God – which I kind of have to keep remembering!) – but for you and me?

If I disciple you – YOU disciple ME.  If I teach you – YOU teach ME.  If I grow you – YOU grow ME!  If I am a shepherd – I am also a sheep – just as you are.  We are ALL both when we allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely from within – when we connect – when we allow Him in us.

There is only one Grower of Seeds – and it is not you or me.

We are always the path, the weeds, the rocky place and the fertile ground – all of those “places” that change day by day (and moment by moment) in each of us.  Just as I love artisan bread always (unless) – so too we receive His seed always (unless)!

And unless we “get that” – we take this “command”:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

And make it this command:

“Teach them to obey!”

Which is why I think we still prefer the payback of “likes”, of “followers”, of a book, of an interview, of our photo here and there in technicolour (or maybe a moody black and white pic) … our face for all to see doing Kingdom Work, of being the shepherd (never the sheep).  Which is why I think that sowing seeds is a cop-out a lot of the time.  Because too often we assume we are “the seed” – and you are not.  And then wrap ourselves in sackcloth and ashes at all the rejection “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Maybe that is why we make Sunday church so important – less rejection … or group licking of wounds of rejection … or proving we aren’t rejected at all  (maybe) 

I think we each have to become less “sowers of seeds” and more “receivers of pebbles” in still quiet places – in still quiet pools.  The still places where we each hear Him – The Grower of Seeds – in those still quiet places of discipling where the Grower of Seeds does HIS Kingdom Work in us.

That – for me – is discipling. That – for me – is THE team game.  The team where you and I are never – ever! – THE leader … THE sower … THE Shepherd … THE Grower … THE anything – other than … the very best disciple ever.  Because Jesus showed us HOW to be that as well.

It’s all there in black and white waiting for each of us to find.   But we will never find it just by reading and then rushing off to do all that fine “Kingdom Stuff” (of which our good Christian diaries always overflow).  That is NOT the place where we hear Him.  That is just us running around doing more and more “teach them to obey!”

Is it just me – am I missing something?   Is there a different bible I should be reading?  Because I see so many sowers who believe they are growers and I wonder –

Why is that?