April 4, 2016

Tossing the Gospel

The sower in Matthew 13 is not your typically precise farmer.

Kristina Penny

It was one of those deceptively cold days, the kind that trades sharp wind and paralyzing temperatures for a dull chill that seeps in over time. The kind that tempts you to leave the house without gloves or scarf; but I was wearing both, expecting to be outside for several hours.

That Saturday afternoon our group was unpacking the church van to serve a warm meal to the homeless. Looking at the faces lining up, I found it hard not to think about how long they’d been out in the elements that day.

Up to our table came a mother with two small daughters. Next, a man approached asking for an extra plate of food for his homeless father. Then a woman appeared, wound tight with so many layers of clothes that she could barely carry her tray of food. I shivered and pulled my scarf a little tighter, but purposely left my face exposed to offer a welcoming smile to our guests.

Suddenly, in front of me was a sharply dressed man, his leather-gloved hands toting a briefcase. I hesitated and glanced around at my fellow group members for guidance. It was that very human moment we all face sometimes when trying to make a judgment about someone. Why is he here? Does he really need this food?

Almost immediately another thought forced itself on my mind: Does it actually even matter? No, it didn’t. There was no shortage of food, no reason to withhold an act of kindness from a soul who, for all we knew, could be facing anything from a lost job to simply a bad day.

It hurts to think that I and other Christians indulge that same scrutinizing attitude when dispensing a gift we’ve been given in far more copious amounts: the good news of salvation in Jesus. We do it so unconsciously—yet so scrupulously—with such thoughts as: those people have already been preached to . . . my neighbor would never listen to my testimony . . . my coworker doesn’t want to talk about faith. We then allow these thoughts to paralyze us out of sharing the gospel, and instead wait for the next carefully planned mission trip or evangelistic meeting.

How sad that we often miss an important point in Jesus’ parable about the sower. In Matthew 13 the sower in the story is not your typically precise farmer; he scatters seed all over the place. From him we learn to focus less on evaluating the ground and more on being so radiant with the truth and love of Jesus Christ that we saturate everywhere we go with seeds of faith.

Think of those to whom the Savior spent time revealing the truths of the kingdom: sick individuals, Pharisees, Gentiles, family members, a tax collector, even the one who would betray Him. If Christ can so easily and openly toss the seeds of the gospel, shouldn’t I—a human with no knowledge of the future or conversion matters of the heart—be even more willing to do so every single day?

Kristina Penny is digital editor of Adventist Review.