One of our greatest prayers should be that we would remain receptive and teachable. Probably the greatest challenge I face is trying to teach students who do not want to be taught. It does not matter if I am a skilled teacher or not, if a student hardens their heart to learning, very little can be done except to try different methods of approach. As a teacher tries various methods it takes time, effort and a great deal of patience. We should be very thankful that we have such a patient God because I would hate to have me as a student. But in saying that, we end up wasting a great deal of our life in our stubbornness and unteachable state of heart. How much more could be accomplished, how much further could we grow if we would only be open to his lessons?
Most of us are familiar with the parable Jesus told concerning the farmer seeding his fields and the various soil conditions he encountered. In case you have forgotten please allow me to freshen your memory:
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:3-9)
Let's understand right here and now that we are supposed to be producers. We have allowed ourselves to become consumers but we are suppose to be producers. If you want to know what kind of soil condition your heart is in consider what is being produced in your life. When you read the Word of God, when the Spirit speaks to you, when a believer has a word for you, any time that God is communicating with you, is something produced? Do you take it in, absorb it, allow it to change and produce something through you?
In many ways the Church has made a bad turn when we stopped training workers and we turned them into a congregation, an audience, consumers. People attend church, they do not participate. They consume the "show", they are not even given the opportunity to produce. Part of the problem is the attitude of the leaders, part is the fault of the size of our churches (too big), and another great hurdle is the fear of expecting too much. Yet, we live in an age where we expect interaction in everything we do. We participate with television shows through things like Twitter, we have more involvement in government through FaceBook, we have more personal contact with our teachers through these same methods, yet when it comes to eternal matters it remains one sided. It certainly isn't God's fault. Long before "social networking" came along he came up with a better method for staying with us throughout the day; he is called the Holy Spirit, the presence of Jesus in us. Yet, just like "social networking" requires us to open our computers, receiving from God requires us to open our hearts.
Let's quickly consider the soil conditions:
The path - this soil was packed down hard from the many feet that would walk on it. As we get older we become more cynical, we expect less from life, we become fixed in our ways and thinking, and we become unteachable. The seed falls on us but it can't get in and is quickly carried away.
Rocky Soil - this condition belongs to anyone who does not prepare their heart for God. We leave in our heart all kinds of other teaching, other ideas and philosophies, things that do not allow proper soil to receive the seed. We cannot receive because too many of our own opinions remain and we fail to prepare for what God wants to produce. Because the seeds cannot get a root in that heart, as soon as challenges come along, another teaching, things that are suppose to produce perseverance, the plants wither in such opposition because there was no root.
Thorns - this would describe most of us. Life is too full for us to take the time, to give the seed space to produce in us. Our life is too full of activities, work, worries, fears, anxieties. We do not give God any priority. We pray while we are falling asleep. We listen to the audio Bible while we are doing other things. We worship while doing other things. We are too busy for prayer meetings or Bible studies. We squeeze church into an already busy Sunday. The seed is chocked out by everything else in life. We are unteachable because we do not take the time to receive and to produce.
Good soil - and this is where we are suppose to be, in a condition where a great crop can be produced through us.
We have far too many consumers in the Church. One consumer is too much so can you imagine how disappointed our Father is with us. Jesus did not die on the cross for our entertainment. Jesus did not mean for us to take a seat in the church when he told us to take up our cross. He did not intend for us to fit him in somewhere in our busy schedule when he told us our love for him must be greater than any other. To be open and teachable for Jesus to produce through us we must be on fire for him, consumed by him, constantly prepared to receive from him. Our daily prayer should be to be broken, melted, molded and filled by the Holy Spirit. Enough of the consumerism attitude in us; let's get on with being producers in the Kingdom of God.