How about a graph to show how readily people take note of the words they hear – and follow them? Where would you feature on that bell curve? Are you with one minority who immediately accept what they hear – and take action? Or with the other minority who, being very sceptical indeed, reject almost every word they hear. Or are you among the average – the biggest group?
Jesus spoke about a particular word being like a seed. Around AD 30 he wanted to explain to ordinary, average people how to become his brothers and sisters. (Yes, quite amazing, isn’t it?) He told them about a sower broadcasting seed – broadcasting word.
The seed falls on the path and the birds eat it up. It falls on stony ground, springs up but wilts and dies in the sun’s heat. It falls among thorns and is choked by them. Finally it falls on good ground and produces 100, or 60 or 30 times more fruit. Those must be his brothers and sisters.
Jesus said that the seed – the word – falls on rocky places – only a little soil – and there, in that place, it springs up. Are those to the left of the bell curve? Folk who readily accept Jesus’ words? Is that commendable?
Here is Jesus’ explanation of the broadcast word of the kingdom of heaven. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet it has no root within himself, but he takes advantage of it for a while, and when opposition or pressure arises on account of the word, immediately he turns away.
Do you recall one occasion in the BBC’s Yes Minister when Sir Humphrey Appleby, the manipulative civil servant, told the Prime Minister, “That would be a brave decision.” The Minister became very concerned, “What? I don’t want to be brave.” He changed his decision as Sir Humphrey wished.
Does then the receiving of the word of the authority of heaven involve bravery? Are we brave if we receive the word that Jesus spoke about but only keep to it when it’s to our advantage? Or do I, in fact, lack integrity when, in response to opposition and pressure against Jesus and his word from heaven, I turn away from him.