Good Soil

"But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

July 14, 2023, Words By: Joel Aguilar, Image By: Barbara Zandoval

Growing up in the evangelical church, I heard the parable of the sower many times, and it was usually accompanied by stories of winning souls for Jesus. Mentors and pastors would tell anecdotes about how, on their many trips, they always found a way to share the Gospel (the seed) with a complete stranger.

Inevitably, the recipient would repent, falling on their knees as they prayed the sinner’s prayer. The one thing left to do was to pray that the person receiving the Gospel was “good soil” so their soul would be saved from eternal damnation.

I’m an introvert, and I was very shy all the way through my early twenties. As a result, these stories created deep anxiety in me. I felt like I wasn’t a good sower. Therefore, I wasn’t a good evangelist. I wasn’t a good Christian. I could barely bring myself to make new friends, let alone to share the four spiritual laws and convert someone. 

In my circles, this parable was interpreted in relation to other people — those who had not heard the Gospel. It was never about us, the Christians. It had to do with them, the unbelievers who needed salvation. They were the ones who might be shallow, rocky, or thorny soil, and in some rare cases good soil, just like us.

What I had never paid attention to is the fact that Jesus actually explains the parable to his disciples after sharing it with the crowds. Is it possible they were the primary audience for the message? Is this message more about his followers’ receptivity to the good news — that God gives life, not death; and that God isn’t in rivalry with anybody or anything?

Trying to be good soil sounds awfully moralistic. It can quickly become self-centered, leading us to either judge ourselves or others. 

The good news of the Gospel is much bigger than our morality — it’s about God’s unending love for all people. This good news gives us an ethical framework of radical inclusion. When we keep our eyes on the God who doesn’t exclude anybody, we gain deeper insight into the Kingdom and its gifts, and we become fertile soil from which life can grow. But when we lose sight of God’s beautiful, life-giving inclusion, we narrow our perspective of who is included in the Kingdom; and, our soil begins to lose its nurturing properties.

The good news of the Kingdom is what God has done for all of us. The more we’re able to see God’s goodness, the more we can produce the life-giving fruit that feeds a hungry world. The fruit is our loving openness to others in community — a reflection of the radically inclusive God who first loved us.

Made Flesh

In what ways is the Spirit inviting you to open yourself to the radical inclusion of the Kingdom of God?

About The Author

Joel Aguilar