Life is kind of a paradox sometimes. We want to be hard workers who know how to rest too. We want to go deep with a few people, but be accepting of everyone. We want to chase our dreams and be available for our families, too. It’s all about holding things in tension, and it’s in the tension our true identities shine through. As we follow Jesus in this world, we have to live in the tension –– but that might just be the life we’ve been looking for all along.
1. We minister to all four soils at the same time.
- As followers of Jesus, all of us do the work of ministry all the time. That means we need to be authentically Christian in the way we deal with things because everything we do and say is an opportunity to glorify God and share the good news with others.
In the gospels, Jesus describes the human heart to be like soil, of which there are four kinds: hard soil, shallow soil, soil full of weeds (worldliness), and good soil ready for planting. As a church, we don’t want to pick people in one spiritual stage and minister only to them –– we want to minister to all four soils at the same time.
- In the same way, no matter how long we’ve been walking with Jesus, each of us has all four types of soil present within our hearts.
Maturing in our walk with Jesus comes down to letting Jesus drive the convictions that form our decisions. We want to be changed, but we don’t like to be challenged. When we feel the Lord digging in the soil of our heart, we have to remember heart surgery is messy but necessary.
Describe a situation recently where you shared the good news of Jesus with someone at a different point in their faith journey from you. And describe what it looks like for you to have the four soils present in your own heart –– where are you bearing fruit, and where is your heart hard or shallow? What heart work is God doing in you right now?
2. We choose not to work in silos.
- To work in a silo simply means to compartmentalize things in our lives, to keep certain things we’re working on separate from others. As a church and as individual believers, we need to live holistically.
- Jesus won’t reign as Lord of just one area of our lives; he wants the authority over everything. And it’s best for us when we live within his design. Whether it’s our relationships, our finances, our occupations or something else, we have to bring it all under the authority of Jesus.
Are you living your life in silos? What is one area of your life you have compartmentalized from your faith in Jesus? What would it look like for you to bring your romantic life, your finances, etc. under your conviction in Jesus?
3. We are subversive with hot-button issues.
- Whether you’re looking to politicians or theologians, you can find someone to endorse whatever you think is true. That’s why we have to keep the Bible in our right hands because the only way to make sure our convictions are right and true is if they match up with Scripture. Often the hot-button issues of our day are the way they are because neither side of the aisle is following Jesus.
- When the politicians of Jesus’ day tried to corner him on divisive topics, Jesus never accepted the playing field as presented to him by the Pharisees and Sadducees or anyone else, but he acknowledged that God had something else in mind altogether.
- God doesn’t want the divisions of humanity to drive the agenda of his church, so we need an entirely different way of responding to the world than just by matching what everyone else is saying.
Describe a situation recently where you found yourself in a conversation where you had to choose how to express your convictions. How did you respond? In a polarized world, how can you respond to hot-button issues like Jesus, acknowledging a third way of looking at things –– not allying blindly with one political party, but with the kingdom of heaven? Are there any ways in which the Lord wants to reshape the way you see the world and how you respond to people?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?