At Pillar Church of Woodlawn we are entering our Grow season of the year, January through April. This is a season of the life of our church where we seek to collectively and intensively devote ourselves to the study of the things of God. Our prayer for this time is that through our study we find Jesus. You can find out more about this season by clicking here – Grow 2017 or hearing a sermon about it here.
In John 5:39 we read a crushing accusation from Jesus for those who had devoted their lives to the study of God. Here we see that Jesus condemns, not their activity, but their approach to the study of God and his Scriptures. His claim is they place their confidence in their own interpretation and not in the person the Scriptures are speaking about, the Messiah.
In this we see that the truth of Scripture has three potential outcomes. First is the outcome that Jesus condemns here in John. When the truth is applied to a heart that is calloused and proud, not seeking transformation or conversion, truth does not take root and grow. It is like the seed that falls on hard or shallow ground and fails to take root and produce fruit. In approaching the truth without faith and humility we risk not finding Jesus and risk not being changed into his image.
Secondly, when the truth of Scripture is applied, it can, at first, be accepted and begin to take root and grow. But the heart that it takes root in may have many other interests, pursuits, and distractions. These all lead to a lack of devotion to what the truth is challenging us to become. Like seed that falls among thorn bushes, no growth can occur because the young plant cannot be cared for by the farmer but is left on its own and its life is eventually choked out. Even if our start is promising, if we are derailed by less important but more “urgent” things we can stumble in our pursuit of finding Jesus.
Lastly we are told of those that receive the truth with hearing and understanding. This reflects a humble posture, willing to lay down our own way and pick up the way of Jesus. This is the good soil that can give nourishment to the roots and room to grow for the branches. If we will recognize that we all have room to grow and that God wants to do a great work in our hearts, only then will we truly find Jesus through our study efforts and only then will he have his way in our hearts.
So let me ask, what condition is your heart in? Are you seeking the truth in faith and humility or cynicism and arrogance? Do we actually want to be challenged, changed, and transformed or would we rather serve God on our own terms, seeking our own good and glory? Let us be careful not to assume to quickly that our hearts are good soil. We all fall short of God’s standard. Let us all then examine our hearts, be honest about our shortcomings, and then repent and believe in the sufficiency of Christ to establish the truth of God in our hearts in this season and in every season.
Our prayer is simple but profound. Lord Jesus, may we come to this season with faith, willingness, humility, and devotion, may we find you in all our seeking, and may we be transformed into your image for you glory. Amen