Parable of the Soils Part 3.6 – Second Addendum – The Shallow Nature of Worldly Logic and Philosophy

geniusIn the last couple posts, I spent time equating the foundation of emotions with a shallow faith. And while this is true, I feel like I’ve neglected an important reality that needs to be addressed, another way that leads to a shallow faith.

Logic and philosophy.

Before my logic and philosophy oriented friends dismiss it entirely, let me explain the root of faith.

We are invited into a Kingdom that is “not of this world.” It is, by nature, of a different reality – so different, in fact, that we cannot see it or understand it unless we have been born again to that reality. The basis of faith has to be, NEEDS to be, revelation from that other reality, another world, or Heaven for lack of a better phrase. Without that revelation, we might see hints, but we are left to our own devices and they ALL fall woefully short.

The “greatest commandment,” according to King Jesus, is to love the Lord God with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength.

We each gravitate to the part of that “love” that is conducive to our gifts or personality. Some people are more emotional, by nature, so they are drawn to loving God with their “heart.” Others are more logical, so they are drawn to serve with their “mind.” You get the picture.

But God isn’t interested in having one part of us. He wants the whole person, whether that is part of your personality or not. As someone that is more geared to the “mind” part of that calling, God has had to teach me how to love him with my heart, with my character, with my effort and will. That’s called maturity. It’s not comfortable, but the commandment isn’t to love God with what is “comfortable.”

Being a disciple of the Kingdom of God is an all or nothing thing. And faith in Christ deals with us in a holistic way. If you decide only one of those is what you focus on, then you will, by nature, fail to see God for who he is. And that leads to deception.

How do we find the balance? The balance is in revelation from God, the Spirit that is the only one that can reveal the mind and heart and message of God, and other disciples fully committed to him (what “church” is supposed to be).

Dealing with logic and philosophy in particular, there are many who seek to prove or disprove God using logic alone, apart from the revelation of God and the other parts of our being that long to be corrected according to the Truth. Logic is reliant upon evidence (or should be), and so if the evidence that is used is purely of this world, then you are limited to two things: 1) what the humans of this world can reasonably discover, investigate, and interpret and 2) the amount of information one individual can conceivably consume and process.

The despair of this is that the world, every day, produces more information than one individual can possibly learn in that same day. And that becomes exponentially true as each day comes and goes.

Realize, I haven’t even gotten into the biases and deceptions within the interpretations of that information both on individual and institutional levels, the self-evident corruption in the world. God helps with that, too.

In other words, since logic is based on information and evidence, and there is exponentially more logic and information than an individual can hope to incorporate into a search for truth and reality, logic and philosophy alone become a gross limitation. Shallow.

Now, let’s suppose that there is a Creator, and the Creator of all things is interested in revealing himself and helping us navigate our way to truth. There is no information we, as the creation, can discover that he does not already know. It all originates with him. If we search for truth, reality, what better Person to help us than an all-knowing, loving, all-powerful God who wants to help us if we will but humble ourselves and listen.

As a disciple of Christ, I do not “suppose” this. It has been proven true in my life again and again. I declare it as the only way.

Logic is used, no doubt. I’ve used it in this post. But the logic is based not on the limited amount of information I can process or learn but in partnership with the revelation of a God who loves me, will not lie to me, and wants the best for me.

Sometimes, God isn’t speaking to my logic. He does not give a logical answer, delays my mental understanding for a time, because he wants to deal with my heart, my character. His promise is that I will one day understand, but in the meantime, will I trust in the peace that passes understanding? Or, more importantly, will I trust in the Prince of Peace when I don’t get the answers I want?

God brings tests to deal with different parts of my being, and the others feel neglected. For those of us who deeply desire to understand it all, this is REALLY DIFFICULT.

But because God loves us, all of us, every part of us, he seeks to bring us to the place where every part of us glorifies him. If we fight that, resist that, we resist love and truth and fact and reality. Deception and pride will be the natural result of that resistance. And it logically follows that then faith dies with it, and the plant dies, as the parable says.

To return to logic, doesn’t it make sense that if I can have access to the One who knows everything, that I take advantage of that access? I may not get the answers I want or think I need or expect, but because he loves me, what I get from him will be what is best for me, best for the Kingdom, best for eternity. Often, however, I get the very answers I seek. And by nature of the Kingdom, it will be a different answer from those that are limited by what this world can teach them.

For many people, they think that faith is devoid of evidence and logic and proof. That idea could not be further from the truth. The truth is that faith includes, and is reliant upon, evidence and logic and proof from another world, another reality, from the eternal Kingdom that never fades and can never be shaken.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Peace.

Parable of the Soils Part 3.5 – An Addendum from a Farmer

“Deep roots mean a good, healthy plant. Shallow roots mean the plant will die.

I was talking the other day with a man of God who used to be a successful farmer. Now, you would think I would have discussed this series on the parable of the soils with him before writing it. No, that would have been intelligent. Instead, I processed more of my thoughts as we discussed it on Friday morning.

For security and safety purposes, I won’t use his real name, so let’s call him Bob. Bob used to own and run several farms. He had several employees and they planted and harvested and were very successful.

He had read these blog posts, and he thought they were very important. (Whew! I’m glad the farmer didn’t point out all the ways I was wrong …) He agreed that the parable was correct; plants with deep roots are strong and produce good fruit. Plants with shallow roots spring up quickly and have bad fruit and eventually die.

He also brought out another danger with shallow soil – the water. If you irrigate plants with shallow soil, you will flood the soil and drown the seed or plant in the process.

While the parable doesn’t bring this out, I found it enlightening. The parable dealt with the heat of the sun as hard times, persecution, etc. If we deal with the symbol of water as the “water of the Word,” then it brings a new dimension to the danger of shallow soil.

A shallow faith cannot handle the water of the Word of God. It cannot handle deep truths, hard truths from Jesus and the scripture. Those hard, difficult truths (as well as hard, difficult times in life) are meant to drive the roots down deeper for water, meant to drive our faith down deeper for greater truth, a truth not based on feelings or philosophy but the reality of Christ.

The truth of the water of the Word will overwhelm and confuse a person with a shallow faith. The Word will not be able to sink down deep and help create a strong, durable faith, and therefore deep truth will do the opposite – it will drive a person to reject faith.

This is why we must be sure new believers, all believers, are not coddled with half-truths or feel good messages. We cannot simply “tickle their ears.” The Truth of Christ challenges us to a radical, all or nothing faith, a faith that drives us to self-sacrificial action and obedience for the Kingdom of God.

By the way, I took the opportunity to go over the rest of the parable with Bob, my farmer brother. It is good when brethren can talk and encourage one another.

Peace.

Parable of the Soils Part 3 – Shallow Faith is no Faith

rocky soilAs we will see, the depth of soil increases as the parable progresses.

The Sower throws more seed, and some fell among rocks and stones. The place wasn’t hard like the path, but the soil was shallow. The seed had enough depth to find purchase, but since the soil wasn’t very deep, the only direction the plant can go is up.

Which seems like a good thing, but it’s not.

Shallow soil means that there is nowhere for the roots to go. And the foundation of a plant is the root. A plant can only go as high as the roots allow. And a plant with a shallow root system is vulnerable.

Often the Gospel is preached, but it is a shallow thing. It is an emotional plea. Or perhaps it is received that way, and the spiritual work isn’t deep. However, these people seem to “grow” quickly, speak amazing statements of commitment and faith. We celebrate these converts as proof our ministry is amazing.

But then they fall away. Or they disappear. And we are left to wonder why.

But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.

At some point, Christianity is expressed or perceived as a fun house where everything will work out the way you want it to. Churches or ministries may not express this in so many words … or they actually may.

And then the hard times hit. Sometimes, the events are heartbreaking and tragic. Our expectations of God are shattered, as if following Him excuses us from these things. Without the deep foundation of true faith, a faith founded on high emotion is destroyed by other emotions. Pain. Wounds. Hurt.

People feel like they were swindled by a faith that promised something it didn’t deliver. And so out of bitterness and disappointment, they leave. They’re gone. They quit.

The Apostle Peter was once like this.

This is the man that so famously said, “I’ll go¬†wherever you go and die with you!”

And just a few hours later, Peter had denied Jesus three times.

Why? His expectations of what it meant to “win” with God were shattered. “Winning” at that time meant the execution of the Son of God, the death of Jesus on the cross – foolishness to the Greeks (philosophers) and a stumbling block to the Jews (the religious).

He quit. He was done.

I don’t want to minimize pain or hurt, as if it does not matter. It does. It is real, and many times valid. God does not minimize the pain or hurt, either. He validates and weeps with us in the midst of it. And since he lived as a man in this world, he understands everything we struggle with, everything we go through. There is no greater High Priest. But the pain is real.

Only a faith that has dug deep roots, sought God in deep places, unseen places, will survive the trials of this life. If you have walked with the Lord for any length of time, then you know the reality of saying, “I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t know if I can go on with this whole Christianity thing.”

A man who walked with the Son of God dealt with this in the extreme – the rest of the disciples also dealt with it.

There is no condemnation for the struggle, even for falling into the “quit,” as Peter did. There is hope, if we are willing to turn back to Jesus, to humble ourselves again and be commissioned again. Our faith must sink deep into Him like roots, deeper than the surface, deeper than our emotions or our situation. It must become an eternal thing, rooted in the unseen Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

You see, the Kingdom is the only thing that cannot be shaken, as the writer of Hebrews tells us. It is secure, solid, and unmovable. Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken. We must make sure that our foundation is in the eternal King and His rule and reign, which is now and forevermore. This gives us hope and motivation, comfort in those difficult times, which we are promised will happen! But thank God, we are also promised a Comforter, a Counselor, the very presence of our Father in the Spirit.

The Kingdom teaches us that there is another way, there is another reality beyond what we currently see with our eyes. It is a Kingdom rooted in Heaven, not of this world, and so we can be secure that our inheritance is there.

Peace.

Parable of the Soils Part 2 – Oh, Those Evil Birds … and How to Stop Them

birdsOh, those evil birds …

As I said in Part 1, the Sower drops the seed indiscriminately, and in the first example, the Seed falls “on the path.” And because the path has been traveled, and well-worn, it is hard ground. The Seed just lays there on top of the ground, and those birds can easily get at the Seed and remove it from the ground.

As Jesus explains the parable, the birds represent the evil one, the wicked one. The Devil.

The idea that there is a spiritual enemy is debated and even mocked, and has been since the beginning, but Jesus teaches that there is a Devil (Satan, Lucifer) and demons, powers in unseen places. They are against us. They are out for us. They want to consume and devour. They are out to kill, for death.

Both God and the Devil are symbolized as lions in the scripture, searching the Earth. The difference between them is simple and clear. The Devil is out to kill and destroy. That is his agenda. God is out to reward those of faith, looking for anyone that will make a step towards him and choose life.

How does the Devil kill us? One of the ways, from this parable, is his ability to take truth, the message of the Gospel, the reality of the Kingdom, from the hearts of men. He removes the truth of the Kingdom from people. And since it is the truth that will set people free, the enemy can keep them in chains and enslaved.

But let’s not blame the Devil. Yes, the Devil is evil and out to destroy us by keeping us in the lie. However, this is the only type of soil where the Devil takes the truth outright. The problem with this soil, ultimately, is the hard heart.

Stubborn, prideful hearts cannot receive truth at all. At all. God resists the prideful and gives grace to the humble. There are some people who are so prideful and arrogant that truth has no chance to take root at all. For the enemy, the prideful, those who are hard of heart, are easy pickins.

How is this important in relation to the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is about the power, authority, and dominion of God, the realm where he is in control, Lord, and King. But the Kingdom of God is not one of obligation or coercion. We are invited in, even recruited and called, but it is our choice. “They will be volunteers in the day of your power.” (Psalm 110:3) It is now, because of his love and kindness, a Kingdom you have the opportunity to submit to and enter through repentance to God. That is the Good News.

Therefore, being hard-hearted, prideful, rebellious, and the lack of humility allows for no opportunity to submit to the Kingdom out of love, voluntarily, because the value of the Kingdom is obvious in spiritual truth and revelation. Such a person is easily convinced by the lies of the enemy that they do not need to repent, to change, to turn to God.

The lesson? First, don’t be prideful. Don’t be so hard-hearted that you cannot be taught by truth, by God, or those speaking truth. Let’s check our hearts and remember to be humble. Submit to the Kingdom.

Second, do not be discouraged when people reject the Gospel of the Kingdom without any consideration. They exist. It is not the fault of the Sower. It is not the fault of the seed. Yes, we can speak the truth in a way that is not pleasing to God, but just because someone rejects the Gospel does not mean someone did it wrong.

And watch out for those evil birds.

Peace.

PS … I also feel there is some revelation about the path being well-worn and hardened. Any thoughts?