Dear Church Family
The warm weather is lovely and I hope you're enjoying the summer. The lack of rain means that the grass doesn't grow and so the grass doesn't need mowing! But as we know, if you go too long without rain, things stop growing and even begin to die.
It's not just lack of water that stops growth. I recently read Mark's account of the well-know story of Jesus that's often called 'The Parable of the Sower' (Mark 4:1-20). Using the picture of a farmer planting seed, Jesus describes four types of people: 1) those where the seed of God's message doesn't take root; 2) those where the seed starts growing but withers; 3) those who grow nicely but are unfruitful, and 4) those who thrive and bear fruit. It was the third group that caught my attention - those who are unfruitful. God's word has clearly taken root but there's no fruit. They're unfruitful disciples. Not reproducing. Why? In verse 19 Jesus tells us specifically why.
There are 3 things, Jesus says, that 'choke the word' - stopping us growing and multiplying.
First: worry. Worry is a joy-killer. It disempowers us . It makes us introspective rather than outward-looking. It doesn't mean that we don't have to be concerned about things. It means that we don't have to worry, because Jesus is with us.
Second: wealth. There's a seduction to wealth which, if we're not careful will 'deceive' us, as Jesus says here. That's why followers of Jesus must pursue Christ before money. If our first priority is him and his kingdom, Jesus says in Matthew 6:33 that he will always look after us, including our finances.
Third: wants. Sometimes we desire and want things that we shouldn't. They're things that are unhelpful or unnecessary, but we pursue them anyway. Instead of submitting them in prayer to Christ we allow these things to dominate our thinking and they become longings. If we pursue and achieve them, we'll be disappointed that they didn't satisfy like we'd hoped.
All these things stop growth. They are distractions that we all face. It's not always easy, and we sometimes get it wrong. Which is why we need each other. We need the church family, so we can talk and share and be open and accountable. True discipleship is following Jesus in the real world, dealing with real issues we all face. True discipleship is always done in community.
So let's be encouraging each other. Let's be real with each other. If we think we're not being fruitful like we should, look at these three areas in your life. Talk and pray with people in your Belfrey Group and others you trust.
We've been made to be fruitful. So let's encourage each other so we can all live fruitful lives in the coming season.