Christians are called and challenged to go out into the world and try to make it a better place. We do so by what we do and by what we say, and in how we respond to the evil and suffering and injustice we encounter just about every day.

However, if we do this — if we try to offer ourselves, our time, our energy, our resources, and our care to others — before very long (like, pretty much immediately) we are going to wonder whether it is worth it. We are going to doubt that anything of value or meaning is going to come out of all of our efforts. Why even try?

I think Jesus’ parable about the sower in Matthew 13:1-3 (and other Gospels as well) going out and casting seed on the ground, hoping it will sprout and grow and bring about good things might shed some light on this for us.

Of course, there were the usual problems of thin soil, rocks, hungry birds, thorns, weeds, and bad weather — all of which did their best to cause all of that effort to come to nothing. But Jesus went on to say that the yield was abundant, nevertheless, and far exceeded the expectations of the sower.

To promise that sort of result was more than optimistic; it was to live in a completely different order of creation. It was to operate out of a quite different vision about life. To sow with this sort of hope and vision is to have the perspective of the Kingdom of God.

With this vision, we do not mind the rocks or the birds or the thin soil or whatever else may get in the way. We accept the reality that those potential problems are there; yet we refuse to allow them to intimidate or discourage us in our commitments to do what we can to make the world a better place.


After all, we already know that much of what we do does not seem to do much good. We know that very well. We already know what it is like to try and try and try to care and to make a difference, and not get anywhere, or not to be noticed, or not succeed, or perhaps worst of all, to not even be appreciated. We know what it is like to reach out a hand to help and pull back a bloody stump.

But I think we can miss the point Jesus is trying to make. He is assuring us that, no matter how it may appear to us, God will make use of our efforts in ways we cannot imagine. We have no way of knowing the impact our words or actions may have on other people.

Of course, it is also true that much of what we offer will apparently be wasted, but that is OK. The results, the “harvest,” is in God’s hands and we simply do not have to be worried about that. Maybe even our very favorite seed, our best most self-sacrificing good deed, our most brilliant remark, or wisest insight, will end up on a rocky path or inside some fat bird. But that is not ours to control, it is not ours to fix, it is not even ours to worry about.

Isaiah 55 assures us that God’s word will not return empty, but will accomplish its intended purpose, and it will prosper in the thing for which it was sent. There is only one way that Word spreads over the earth and that is through the actions and words of imperfect people such as you and me. All we have to do is scatter those seeds all over the place, and we can do that.

The Rt. Rev. David C. Bane Jr. is the retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia and a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Elizabeth City. He is also the author of the new book, “God, Life, You and Me,” available on Amazon(religion/spirituality), Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Thriftbooks.