Planting Seeds for the Kingdom

“The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.” (Mark 4:26-27)

A comment made years ago by a politician recently surfaced. This can be most unhelpful if that individual is now running for a higher office, and it serves to negatively bias the opinion of thousands of perspective voters. The politician said that he could teach anyone how to be a farmer. He went on stating that all you have to do is dig a hole, put a seed in with dirt on top, add water, and up comes the corn. While this recorded remark was likely a minor portion of a larger conversation, it served to isolate and insult the intelligence of many hard-working Americans who spend a huge portion of their day growing the food that eventually ends up on our tables. The comment is an oversimplification of what has grown to be a rather complex industry in our country. Even the novice who may occasionally start a plant in their backyard realizes that there is more involved in the process. For unless you loosen the soil, provide appropriate fertilizer, and do some occasional weeding – your garden isn’t going to amount to much.

In many ways, each of us has the opportunity to do our own seeding. Many times, however, they are not found in a packet but instead evidence themselves in the seed of ideas. Parents and grandparents, educators, government officials, journalists, pastors, and even those of us who philosophize or express our opinions can become influencers in the way others think and act. We need not look any further than the destructive seeds planted by the propaganda of Adolph Hitler which led to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, the perpetration of the Holocaust, a World War and the deaths of millions of Jews and other victims. Fortunately, there are many who have had the opportunity to build character and influence lives for good. Fred Rogers was a crafted listener who cared deeply about people. He worked every day to plant seeds of hope and expression in the lives of others (especially children) who felt angry, worthless, or unloved. His 33-year career as the TV personality Mr. Rogers, portrayed by Tom Hanks in the 2019 movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, demonstrates the positive value of planting influential seeds.

The late Oral Roberts coined the “seed-faith” principle. It included three basic components: Recognizing that God is your source (Philippians 4:19); giving first, so that it may be given back to you (Luke 6:38); and, expecting a miracle (Mark 11:24). Roberts once wrote, “The moment we ask God for something—the moment we do our part and plant our seed of faith—we should believe God that the answer is on its way. It’s important to expect our miracle so we can recognize it and reach out to take it when it comes. And it’s also important to remember that God controls the time and methodHe will use to give back to us. We must keep trusting Him and expecting our miracle, no matter how long it takes to reach us.” Unfortunately, out of this philosophy came the highly persuasive concept of seed faith offerings – money given in faith that God will, in turn, multiply it and return it to the giver. This practice has become misused in some arenas, allowing the teaching to become little more than a get-rich-quick scheme that preys upon the desperate and hurting among God’s people.

The Apostle Paul focused on a different kind of seed faith in his first letter to the newly growing Church at Corinth, whose members were totally divided over which of their leaders they should follow. He wrote, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul knew that a real understanding of ‘faith farming’ occurs when we realize that it is God who enables its seeds to sprout roots and ultimately provide for a bountiful harvest. I once heard an old story about the man who prided himself on his beautiful, well-tended garden of flowers. One day, while he was on his hands and knees, a neighbor passed by and complimented him on his grand floral display. “Ah,” said the neighbor, “how good the Lord is to produce such wonderful growth. “Yes,” said the gardener, “but you should have seen how magnificent the garden was when God had it all to himself.”  For you see, it’s not as simplistic as just digging a hole and planting a seed. The garden only begins to flourish when God becomes involved in ways we don’t quite comprehend. It is evidenced in the fact that our faith is a result of the improbable fruit of what many in Jesus’ time would have considered a worthless exercise in seed planting. This should not surprise us . . .  for the Kingdom of God is just like that.

REFLECTION: Can you recall a time when you have seen seeds of faith yielding a harvest where you would have least expected it? Have there been other times when your faith seeds have not taken root? Consider planting some new seeds and envision what it will be like when the season of dormancy passes.

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