The reign of God starts with invisible seeds. Yes, as in spiritual seeds. Here are a few SEEDS steps we can take to become modern-day SOWERS.
Planted in the house of the Lord they will flourish in the courts of our God, still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green, to proclaim that the Lord is just. (Ps 91)
“One of the studies, from Cornell University, spent thirty years following 427 women who were married and had children. Researchers found that only 36 percent of women who regularly volunteered had experienced a major illness, while 52 percent of those who never volunteered had a major illness. Other studies indicated that those who volunteered their time lived longer than those who didn’t. Frequent volunteers had a 44 percent reduction in early death when compared to non-volunteers.” (WebMD.com. November 28, 2005.)
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9)
√ Good deeds don’t have to be grandiose and extraordinary: volunteering in church affairs, giving an affirming word, a smile, a word of thanks, of hope, of love. Just sow ’em! Spread Obedience to the Word! Scatter Opportunities of Wholeness! Hahaba pa buhay mo!
√ It is not enough that we sow small seeds of deeds. maximalist Christians ought to educate oneself and others too. The first step of education is to have one’s eyes opened and be turned from darkness to light. (Acts 26:18) It is not good that the soul be without knowledge. (Prov 19:2) For only in God’s light can we see light. (Ps 36:9)
√ To educate comes from the Latin educare “bring up, rear, educate,” which is related to educere “bring out, lead forth,” from ex- “out” + ducere “to lead”. The word “education” may not appear in the English form in Scriptures but the sense of “leading out” from the darkness of ignorance “into the light” of knowledge has many references. An example is Paul’s exhortation to parents is to nurture their children in the Lord: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
√ Many Catholics play their Catholic faith only “by ear,” in common parlance by oido. Not enough! Some can be very “talented” and “skillfull” but lacking in knowledge. One parish priest told a story of a regular summer volunteer catechist. Very good speaker perhaps. But once he posed the question to this catechist: “Is the Sto. Niño the same person as Hesus Nazareno?” To his dismay, the volcat’s reply was: “No, father. They’re two different persons.” Ngek!
√ Educating oneself and others in the faith is as important as sowing the seeds of faith. it is not enough that we bring our children to baptism, we should bring them up in the knowledge of the faith too! At dapat kasama ka na rin doon!
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16)
√ To exemplify is to illustrate. It is from the Latin exemplum “a sample,” meaning “small quantity (of something) from which the general quality (of the whole) may be inferred.”
√ It is not enough that we teach through words. Actions speak louder than words. Hence the urgency of exemplifying the sown Word in our own attitudes and behaviours is demanded by the SEEDS steps. Proxy sampling is not enough. See what I mean in the following item..
Media: A Proxy Source of Sexual Norms
“Kids who watch violence on television and in movies tend to become more violent, research has shown. Now research shows that kids who watch sexual activity on TV and in movies tend to become more sexually active.
In a study published in 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers studied 1,017 adolescents, ages twelve to fourteen, over a period of two years. During that time, the teens were exposed to 264
episodes on movies, TV shows, music and magazines, which were then analyzed for their sexual content. In general, the survey found that teens exposed to higher levels of sexual media participated in a higher level of sexual activity. For example, teens exposed to a high amount of sexual media were 2.2 times more likely to have had intercourse between the ages of fourteen and sixteen than teens with less exposure.
One explanation for the increase in sexual activity is the entertainment industry’s role as a peer, researchers say. In an age when parents rarely talk to their children about sex, the media becomes an educator, teaching that sex is fun and there are no risks. Researchers suggest that teenagers exposed to a large amount of sexual media ‘may begin to adopt the media’s social norms as their own. Some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms — such as parents or friends — may use the media as a kind of sexual super-peer that encourages them to be sexually active.'” (Michael Conlon, “Sexy Media a Siren Call to Promiscuity?” Reuters News Service. April 3, 2006)
√ When we lack models of good morals and right conduct through Christian modelling, the world takes over through media’s entertainment industry! We should never allow these super-peers to usurp our moral authority over our children and our children’s children!
√ To dedicate is from the Latin dedicare, “to consecrate, proclaim, affirm, set apart,” from de- “away” + dicare “proclaim,” from stem of dicere “to speak, to say.” To be dedicated later on acquired the meaning of “to be devoted to one’s aims or vocation.”
√ It is not enough that we sow, educate and exemplify, even if these steps already seem enough. The word of God needs to bear fruit too. Not that we are responsible for its growth, God is, but we need to water it too, at least for our own fruit bearing. We need to dedicate ourselves to fruit-bearing. We need to be witnesses.
√ One may argue that Educating and Exemplifying are already covered by witnessing. Right. But these are not enough. Why? Because education and modelling can be done perfunctorily: I teach only when I preach to my kids; I model only to my children. They can be functional; an on-off thing. Dedication is what makes education and modelling a process, a journey, a life-time commitment. Dedication is consecrating oneself to proclaim and affirm the power of God’s Word 24/7!
√ Three time Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” Each time, Jesus’ reply to Peter had something to do with shepherding: feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep”(Jn 21:1-19).
On a cold February night in 2001, Erika, age one, somehow wandered out of her house and spent the entire night outside. When her mother, Leyla Nordby, found the little girl, Erika appeared to be totally frozen. Her legs were stiff and her body frozen, and all signs of life appeared to be gone.
Erika was treated at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Health Center. To the amazement of doctors, the toddler showed no sign of brain damage. They gave Erika a clear prognosis; she would soon hop and skip and play like other girls her age. (Bob McKeown, “A Tiny Survivor,” MSNBC Dateline. March 20, 2001)
√ Even when we try our best to follow the four SEED steps above, there comes many a time when we ourselves may wander away from our Father’s house, and it can bring us near the point of death. Our hearts may harden, and our spiritual bodies may look as lifeless as the little girl in the snow.
√ But our Father knows we are missing and is searching for us. He can take our lifeless spirits and restore us to health. Just allow the Father to pick you up and take you back to his house. Let Him be your shepherd.
√ Only when we allow Him to be our shepherd can we truly shepherd others too. Tend the sheep God has entrusted to your care: with patience, understanding, with diligence and perseverance. The reign of God works quietly within man’s souls. You just have to take up the role of a visible shepherd in the Good Shepherd’s name. ♥