Luke 8: 7, 14 “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants … The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
Those who ‘do not mature’ are the ones who do not reach their true potential. They do not become all that they could.
When the scattered seed fell into the thorny soil it carried within it the life and power to produce a fully grown plant. There was nothing wrong with the seed. Initially it grows but so did other things alongside it. These things are not really bad things, they are at first really small and look harmless enough. Wisdom is not only seeing potential in the seedling but potential in the weed and thorn.
So what are these thorns?
Worry. The Bible is full of instruction not to, yet it doesn’t seem like a command when we are concerned about something. Worry can seem responsible. It can make us feel like we care about what is going on in the world. But it deceives because worry is not that at all. Worry consumes, it can make a person slow down and it can even make a person ill. Why worry when you can pray?
Riches. Jesus says more about money than perhaps anything else. He called it ‘Mammon’ referring to it as a false god which tries to offer you what only God offers, security. It wants you to pursue it with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Yes it is trying to copy the worship of God.
Pleasures. What is it that you think you cannot live without? I talked with my daughter yesterday about the power of a certain chocolate bar which we had recently discovered. I won’t tell you what it is called because it has this powerful ability to give you a good feeling. It is simply amazing! It begins with P and ends in C and it is what we call an activity where we carry our food to some beauty spot and then put the rug on the ground, sit down and eat as a group. Oh my goodness! What a pleasure! If only a chocolate bar was a thorn. For some it may be! But there are pleasures or habits that we just cannot shake loose. They do have a hold over our lives. It leaves us with the reaction, ‘I must have that thing.’ Cravings can choke us.
These 3 things prevent us reaching our true potential.
I wonder if it’s possible that a whole church can become choked because of the thorns. Is that why they enter a decline? ‘Come to Jesus and he will satisfy you with all that you need, you will have no troubles when you receive Jesus, he will give you riches and he will satisfy your every longing.’ That’s not the gospel because it not only isn’t the good news, it just isn’t true. Initially we can get converts with this and the church grows. But soon these converts realise that actually it is right to worry because recently some of their prayers haven’t been answered the way they had hoped. They get made redundant or for other reasons enter into some financial difficulty and they wonder why when Jesus was meant to be improving their life. So they turn to their pleasures again. Pleasures plus Jesus leads to just pleasures. Yes it is true, a whole church can become choked.
It can become choked by going through seasons where everything is filtered through a worry. Prayer meetings are intensified, preaching is centred around the topic of whatever is wrong in the world, the tough challenges we are facing, the atmosphere is heightened, red alert, this is a battle, the forces of evil are banging on the church door trying to get in, maybe they are already in, we need to get them out. The leaders maybe thinking they are being spiritual but the guy in the pew is just worried and the church chokes.
It can become choked by wealth. When the leaders of a church are desiring a project then they need to lead the church to give. How they do this needs wisdom. Sometimes out of their frustration and perhaps lack of faith they are wanting to tip every church member upside down through manipulation and brute force to get whatever is in their pockets into the offering plate. Let’s have more offerings! We need to preach and teach about money but it becomes difficult to do so when you are at the same time wanting the money from people you are speaking to. Give me £10 for a soul. 5 dollars for a healing. There are online prophecy ministries where you can get an instant prophecy or a long range forecast, for a fee. Other churches preaching wealth as a prize for the walk with Jesus have done more damage than anything else in the church, they ask for a seed from you with the thought that if you seed into them then you will prosper. What happens is that they get a sack full of seeds so that they become rich and you have lost sometimes what is far more than a seed.
It can become choked by pleasures. The pleasures of politics within church, in-fighting, gossip, spiritual abuse is pleasurable to those that abuse, ambition, Pharisaic religion, sin, going to sleep etc. The list just goes on. Pleasures abound in many forms.
Yes it is true a whole church can become choked as much as individual Christians.
Is the fault with the one scattered the seed? Should Jesus not be sharing the kingdom to the whosoever? Should we first not have some rigorous application to make sure that this is not thorny soil. No, let’s scatter. There will be pain but there are times when we simply cannot tell the quality of the soil, we will find that out later. But for now the whole world needs to hear of Jesus.