Thursday, September 3, 2009

Three Barriers to Faith

Three Barriers to Faith
The Parable of The Sower
Matthew 13

As I was getting ready for my sermon for Wednesday night with the teens I began looking at the Parable of the Sower in a different way. Instead of looking for the surface problems of each of the different types of soils, I wanted to look at the real problems. I also wanted to see what there was about the parable that would affect the way we do church today. Upon studying the text this way I began to see that there were three Barriers that were keeping the seeds that fell on the path, the rocky ground, and the thorny ground from growing. These are the same three Barriers that keep people from living a life of faith in Christ.
1. Lack of Understanding – The path represents those who hear the Gospel message, but do not understand it. It doesn’t say whose fault the lack of understanding was. We often assume it is the hearer’s fault, but I am beginning to wonder if the fault could sometimes fall to the messenger.
2. Lack of Depth – The rocky ground represents those who hear and respond to the Gospel message, but then later fall away because of hard times. The problem for this type of soil is not the tribulations, but rather that their depth is not in the Scriptures, but in someone or something else. When that thing moves (be it a parent, friend, worship style, or church building) their faith begins to waver. We need to be and produce believers who only find their depth in the word of God.
3. Lack of Space – The thorny ground represents those who respond to the Gospel message, but never produce fruit because too many other things get in the way. When someone accepts Christ other things have to leave their life. If this doesn’t happen then fruit is hindered. The person may look like a Christian, and act like a Christian, but based on what God requires of a Christian they are not a Christian because they have no space.
As I think on these three soils I think also of the good soil, and I ask myself the question: “What do we need to do to get more people at Central to be Good Soil.” I haven’t come up with a full answer yet, but I do know it has something to do with these three things.
1. We need to help people understand the message of the Gospel
2. We need to help people find their depth in the Word of God
3. We need to help people have space to be fruitful for Christ
Let’s think on these things as we do ministry together at Central.