A Call to Activism

bpmitrofan_propovedBehold, a sower went forth to sow…

Who is not familiar with the Gospel parable describing the Sower, some of whose seeds fell on good ground and some on stony ground. Know that the Sower is Christ Himself, the Son of God, and the seed is His word.

The Lord uses this parable to illustrate the fact that God does not grant salvation without man’s participation. The Lord sows the seed, i.e., He plants His life-giving word in man’s heart. It then becomes the responsibility of man to open his heart, to receive the word and to bring forth fruit. This parable of the sower calls man to spiritual action, to cultivate the soil of his heart in such a way that it will bring forth ‘much fruit’.

Each time that we hear or read this parable about the Divine Dower, we should examine our hearts, the condition of our soil, as it were. To what category do we belong? To those whose hearts are unreceptive, unfeeling, where the word of God finds no soil in which to take root? When we return home from church to our daily surroundings, what happens to the word of God planted in our heart during the Divine Service? Is it stifled by irritation or malice? Does it become lost among worldly cares? Is it destroyed by sinful thoughts and desires? Are we perhaps the type of person who accepts the word of God with gladness, but under the influence of the trials and difficulties of life just as readily casts it aside, causing it to fade and wither away? Or, do we accept the word of God and give it the opportunity to take root in our hearts, but with time we smother it with our undue attachment to the ‘good things of this world and the accumulation of riches–and the seed remains fruitless. On the other hand, we may be among those whose hearts contain good soil–this means that we not only hear but also understand the meaning of the word of God and how it relates to us; it means that we labor and bring forth fruit to the glory of God.

All of us suffer in seeing how quickly and persistently the waves of evil rise up around us on all sides. Turning to God Whose Providence covers the world, we pray: Lord, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And we hear in reply: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). And again He says: This Kingdom which you so desire is reached only through great effort (Matt. 11:12). We understand this to mean that the Lord requires His followers to be activists; He requires action in serving God, action in laboring to perfect oneself, action in serving one’s neighbor.

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)

Let us ask ourselves: Are we activists? An overwhelming majority would have-to answer–NO! We pray, we call upon the Lord: “Thy Kingdom come,” we sigh and.., we remain passive, as if waiting for some kind of miracle. But this passive expectation of miracles is condemned by the Lord Himself. If prayers and sighing are not followed by spiritual action, they will only lead to self-delusion, spiritual emptiness and despondency.

Using the parable of the Sower, the Lord explains to us how the seed of the Kingdom of God is planted and the different ways in which it is received into each heart. This parable is followed by the parable about the mustard seed and the leaven, both of which illustrate the enormous power contained in the word of God, which it so readily displays in receptive hearts.

A mustard seed is among the smallest of seeds and yet it grows into a tree of such dimensions that many of God’s creatures find shelter in its branches. Similarly, a small amount of yeast is sufficient to leaven a whole lump of dough. In just this way the New Testament Kingdom, the Church of Christ, in spite of its humble beginnings, extends its branches throughout the world, illumining it with its inner light and peace. Here man is called to be a co-worker with God, This kingdom of the New Testament, the Kingdom of God, will triumph not through power of weapons, not through force. No. It’s triumph lies in the power of Truth which is contained in its very essence. And with this power–the power of faith and love–it will conquer the world.

Still speaking about the Church, Christ gives another parable, about tares. Here the Saviour forewarns us that the Kingdom of God on earth–the Church–will not grow without encountering the crafty opposition of its archenemy who will not fail to use all his artful wickedness in order to hinder or to prevent the growth of this Kingdom, the Church of Christ.

If we Christians consider ourselves to be children of the Light, children of God, we must show forth spiritual activity, avoiding the Old Testament legalism and clinging firmly to the life-giving teachings of Christ. We must act in such a way that through our lives we can extend a positive influence to those surrounding us, in order that the Lord’s harvest not be overtaken by tares.

We cannot sit back and “take it easy” as though salvation comes automatically with faith in Christ. True, the Apostle tells us that “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8) and that salvation is a gift freely given. But the same Apostle also says: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” “run the race, …. press toward the mark…” While the world extols pleasure and relaxation, the way of salvation demands constant exertion, constant activity. May we begin today to cultivate an active spiritual life, knowing that the difference here between action and inaction means the difference between being called and being chosen.

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