Today’s Daily Office serves up two of my favorite biblical passages. In the gospel reading, Luke shares the Parable of the Sower, which invites us to consider our response to God’s Word:
- Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
- Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
- 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.
- But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Lk. 8:12-15)
How receptive to the “seed” of God’s Word has the “soil” of my heart been lately? Obviously, I – and just about everyone else I know – would want to be “good soil.” But let’s face it; it’s not easy. “Rocky” times of testing are all too common, and “thorny” concerns of life confront us on every side. How do we clear away the debris so that a crop can grow?
Perhaps an answer of sorts comes in today’s epistle lesson from Romans 12. There Paul says…
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:1-2)
Becoming “good soil,” it seems, really isn’t something that we do. At best we can offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice (I’ve always like the way that Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering”) and allow ourselves to be transformed by the One who desires and is able to produce good fruit within us. And what “unusual fruit” it is! Paul goes on to describe a life that in so many ways runs counter to popular wisdom:
- Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, (12:3)
- Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (12:10)
- Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (12:12)
- Bless those who persecute you. (12:14)
- Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.(12:16)
- Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (12:21)
These descriptions of the “transformed life” both inspire and challenge me. But the gospel holds out the hope that we can have this life – not by virtue of our own striving – by through the power and grace of the Sower who plants His Word within us.
May we “place our lives before Him” as an offering today. And with wonder and gratitude may we discover that a crop is being produced that feeds the souls of both ourselves and others.