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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Mission

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-"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’"-Matthew 13: 1-9

The parable of the sower is well known, and Jesus is explaining an important aspect of the Church's life; that sometimes things just aren't going to work.  This is what I always remember when I read this passage.  The Church has a mission, and the mission is simple, do the work of Jesus Christ in this world; this includes ministry to those in need in body and soul.  But sometimes our efforts are going to fail.  Sometimes things just aren't going to work.  Look at the parable.  Most of the seed produces nothing.  It falls on people who can't hear it, don't want to hear it or are too busy to hear it.  They just aren't going to get it.  Which is a major bummer.

And this heartens me, because it reminds me that our work has a margin for error.  We are absolutely supposed to be out there, doing God's work, but the expectation of that work will never be perfection, a 100% pass rate, an A+.  Instead, we should consider our success rate as a batter in baseball considers his.  30% is pretty good.  If 30% of what we do yields fruit; if people hear the Word and respond, if people get help who are in need.  If these things happen with some regularity then the Church is doing it's job.  The problem is that too often, the Church accepts results far below this. 

Prayer:  Holy God, I ask that you would help me to do your work.  Help me to serve you with energy, passion and enthusiasm.  Help me to spread your Word all over this world.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.

[Phillip Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]

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