One of my favorite things here at our language school is the opportunity to offer meditations en Français. With any kind of preaching or teaching of the Bible, the first challenge is to truly grasp the message. The second challenge is to be able to package it in a way that honors its truth while also making it easy to understand. Finally, you must be able to deliver it effectively to your respective audience.
Let me tell you, putting your thoughts into another language truly forces you to hone in on these steps! This is especially true when you are new to this other language, because you must simplify the message for yourself before doing it for your audience. Call me crazy, but I love it!
Near the beginning of April, I had my second opportunity to offer a meditation to our class. I chose to lead the class through a passage I love to teach: Matthew 13:1-23, the parable of the sower. I like this passage for many reasons. Parables are always interesting, challenging, and meaningful. Additionally, Jesus discusses why he uses parables in his teaching, which is valuable knowledge for tackling the Gospels in general. Finally, Jesus not only tells the parable, but in verses 18-23 he also explains each element. As such, this is an easy message to simplify and focus in on.
When I offered these scriptures as a meditation here for my French class, there were two points that I focused in on. The first had to do with the seed that falls on the path. It is snatched up due to a lack of understanding. I reminded our class that with reaching people in another language, we have taken on a serious responsibility. We do not want our abilities to communicate in French to keep people from being rooted in the truth of Jesus.
I also made the point that we are not told to go seek good soil. Honestly, if that is what Jesus was saying, then some may argue that France is not where we should go. Many describe it is a spiritually barren wasteland where nothing can grow. I think that Jesus’ point is not that we are to search for good soil, but that we are supposed to make sure that we are the actual seeds which have landed in the good soil. Don’t read that parable with yourself as the sower (at first). Read it as though you are a seed and you need to decide where you are going to fall. It is easy to want to diagnose others who seemingly fall on paths, rocky ground, or in weeds, but we must evaluate ourselves in these matters. We are to protect ourselves from a lack of understanding of the Gospel (the path), from the challenges of difficult times in life (rocky ground), and from the dangers of worldly cares and desires so that we can sprout and grow (weeds). Only then can we even think about sowing.
Do not get hung up worrying if you are sowing in good soil. Instead, focus intently on being a product of good soil. Reap a harvest in your life through faith and faithfulness, sow seeds wherever you find yourself, and trust God to make it all grow.