Planting Seeds
John 1:43-51

Last week I talked about the fruits of the Spirit, and that they are the result of our growing through Christ and his Word that is coursing through us and nourishing us.  Just to remind you or in case you weren’t here the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22 are LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GENEROSITY, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL. 

This week I want to spend some time talking about planting seeds.  I think the two themes are closely interlinked and I want to explain how later, but first I’d like to tell you a story about an interaction between two men.  Johnny Lee Clary was once the Imperial Wizard or national leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the US.  Reverend Wade Watts was an African American minister in his town and was being threatened and harassed by Johnny Lee and his Klan members; here is some of his story…

I think that minister showed all of the fruits Spirit to Johnny and his mates.  It was an amazing witness to the people who were trying to persecute him.  Reverend Watts was quoted as saying at a later point in their lives that the best way to overcome an enemy is to become their friend.  As this man showed the fruits of the Spirit he was allowing the seeds of faith to be sown in the man who was committed to persecuting him.

Several years later as Clary’s world had started to self destruct; he came to the point of wanting to take his own life.  The story goes that at almost the point of no return he caught a glimpse of a Bible in his motel room.  He picked it up and began to read, it saved his life.  If those seeds hadn’t been sown by Reverend Watts, he may never have picked that Bible up. 

Some might say that it wouldn’t have been a great loss to society, but this man has become a Christian and continues to sow seeds in others throughout the world.  He has even been a guest preacher at the same church that he attempted to burn down.

This is a rather extreme case I have to admit but it does a great job of demonstrating how the seed of God’s love can be sown in someone even when they are at the least likely point in their lives to be ready to take it on board consciously.  Sometimes showing others the fruits of the Spirit in us will involve some risk on our part, but with prayerful and careful consideration, miracles do happen.

I’m not saying that we should go out and hunt down extremists and preach at them, not by any stretch of the imagination.  I think that sowing seeds in people’s lives begins with positive relationships.  As we get to know people and share experiences with them through all aspects of life, there is a mutual trust that is built up, that offers opportunity for witnessing to the love of God and the faith that we cling to.

That’s what Philip did for his friend Nathaniel, when Jesus found Philip and asked him to follow him, Philip went looking for Nathanael and told him that they had found the Messiah, the one that was prophesied about, Nathanael was sceptical but went with Philip anyway.  He didn’t expect to find much, but in his conversation with Jesus he realised that Philip had told him the truth, this truly was the Son of God.  Jesus responded by saying that he will see many great things, including the heaven opened and angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  All it took for Nathanael was for Philip to invite him to meet Jesus.

We don’t have to front up to someone and ask them the much feared question, “If you die tomorrow where will you go?”  I’ve heard that approach, I’ve never used it myself and never will, because I’ve seen the results, it wasn’t pretty.  I don’t think I will see those people turning up in a church any time soon.

We don’t have to set out and make people in our lives projects for ‘evangelism’.  We just need to go about our lives, being people of God in the world, not hiding our light, but letting it shine.  By introducing people to Jesus through his light and love shining in us.

People need to experience the love of God through someone else to be able to believe that God could possibly love them.

In our context many people are so reliant on themselves and their own abilities they won’t even admit that they might need the love of some ‘divine being’ that they can’t see and don’t really know much about.

In our schools we have a unique opportunity to plant seeds in the students who choose to be a part of our community.  We have a chance to bear the fruits of the Spirit and care for them in a loving and nurturing way.  God will do the rest, it’s God that creates faith, he prepares the soil, and creates the faith, we are merely instruments for planting.  We have an amazing message to share with people, a message for their lives now and that gives them hope for the future.

When you have a great message you want to share it with people don’t you?  When you find a bargain at a shop, do you tell your friends about it?  When you see a great movie, do you keep it to yourself or recommend it to others?  What about if you have a fantastic meal or visit some amazing place on a holiday?  We immediately want to share that with our family and friends don’t we. 

We don’t have to market it, wrap it up in some neat package so that it’s suitable for television viewing audience or as a glossy magazine advertisement.  We sell it with our excitement and enthusiasm it just rubs off and makes others want to experience what we have.

It doesn’t take much enthusiasm really and the ripple effect takes hold, sooner than we can imagine things take off.  Enthusiasm, is contagious, so is faith, it may take time, it may not, but unless the seeds are sown, they will never take root, but that’s another story, for next week!