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The 1st obstacle to advancing the conversation of Jesus is the constant presence of divisiveness. The 2nd obstacle that comes up for me is the massive and intensive distractions that bombard us daily. No, it’s worse than daily; it’s moment by moment, all day long!
Let’s return to Jesus’ parable of the sower, where he describes 4 soils we discussed last week. There are 5 distractions Jesus articulates or intimates within this teaching: “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Distraction #1: Live your life with no awareness or interest in the possibility of anything outside or greater than yourself. Without even being interested in searching for the truth, the word of the Kingdom is not understood or welcomed, and is snatched away from any consideration or possible effect on your life.
“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” Distractions #2 & #3: Affliction and criticism of your identification with Jesus and the Kingdom. When problems come into your life, it’s easy to bail out. Many receive Jesus, hoping to have a genie with a magical wand to make life outstanding. When reality sets in, a new search for a new quick-fix genie begins.
“And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Distraction #4: Worries of the world can be the greatest distraction. Jesus warns against allowing worry and fear to overtake you. His answer is to stop your worry and stop your fear and seek first the things of the Kingdom instead.
Distraction #5: Deceitfulness of wealth. This distraction amounts to putting your trust in earthly riches, rather than in the God of gods. The temptation is so great; it’s almost the most natural thing to do. We were created to be dependent people. If we aren’t dependent upon God, we’ll become dependent on something else. And, what’s most interesting is that whatever you trust in tends to control your life.
Do your best to avoid these distractions and you have a greater possibility of being the most fruitful in your life. Jesus says: “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:18-23
Avoid the distractions and advance the conversation of Jesus!