We did a very long sermon series on John at our church, which is usually my go-to Gospel, so I chose Luke. And even though he starts 99% of his sentences with and, (see what I did there?) I've been really enjoying it.
End long introduction of post.
Luke 8 contains the parable of the sower. I have read this story a million times, which makes it so hard not to go into auto-pilot reading mode. (Read here if you aren't familiar with the parable.)
The sower (or farmer, gardener) is throwing seeds. Jesus describes four different soil conditions that the seeds meet: the path, where the seed is trampled and devoured; rocks, where the seed dries up and withers away; among thorns, where the seed grows up but is choked out; and good soil, where the seed grows and yields a huge harvest.
In verse 11, Jesus tells his disciples that the seed represents the word of God. He then breaks down the four groups of people represented in the four conditions of soil here, but I want to focus on the choked-by-thorns group.
Recently, I heard a sermon about this parable in which the speaker urged us not to assume that we are the good soil. Not to assume that we are the ones who receive the Word of God, grow up nice and strong without any hiccups or distractions, and start popping out fruit, or vegetables, or whatever.
I grew up in church, and I always thought I was the good soil. Of course I was. Those poor seeds that fell on the path and got devoured by birds. Ouch. Good thing I didn't have to worry about that.
Read verse 7:
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.
Whenever I read this growing up, I assumed the thorns were bad people. You the know the Proverb: Bad company corrupts good character. The thorns were bad influences and friends who pulled you away from God.
Ah, good ol' reading out of context.
In verse 14, Jesus says what the thorns really are.
And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
They are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life. Can we camp there for a second?
My obsession with the way I look is not distracting me. It is choking me.
My obsession with checking my phone for Facebook notifications, Instagram notifications, text messages, snaps, who knows what else, is not distracting me. It is choking me.
My obsession with what I will eat, what fun things I'll do, how much sleep I will get, and me, me, me, is not distracting me. It is choking me. It is choking out God's power to work in my life.
The thorns growing up in my life, twisting and tangling and forcing themselves in, are not bad, ugly, red-flag things. They are pleasures, riches, things that I like and things that I love that occupy my heart and choke out the Word of God.
I feel like I could go on forever and make this post even more unreadably long, but I will end with this. Not a single thing of this world that you love, not even other people, can complete you, satisfy you or save you. Stop allowing thorns to choke out the one thing, the only thing that matters.