Almost Summer

We had our first really hot day of summer today and I have my first sunburn to show for it. It has been an especially strange year with the weather being rather bizarre everywhere. We had a cold, rainy winter and a rainier spring. Summer usually shows up as a surprise around here and kind of comes and goes for a while before it decides to stay—somewhere around July. So I anticipate the weather getting cooler again soon, but for now I am going to enjoy seeing the sun and feeling its warmth.

Basking in the sun is refreshing and restorative—especially after a long winter. Our world has had a long bout of winter. It has been particularly difficult with the numerous disasters, wars, and genocide. What we really need is a good dose of Sonshine. The planet needs to be warmed with the love and healing of God.

It is hard to know how to accomplish this. Religion has done a pretty poor job in general of spreading love. It has a tendency to become rigid and to become exclusive and shut out others who believe differently. In fact, most of our wars are done in the name of religion. Its not that there is anything wrong with organized religion, it is just that people use it to hide themselves in, like a rigid armor, and shut the world out. They forget about the main reason for their belonging to a religion in the first place—to be a light to the world—or maybe they really never knew.

Jesus told a parable about a farmer who sowed some seed. The seed was scattered by hand and some of it fell in shallow soil, some on hardened ground, some among the weeds, and some in fertile soil. All of the seeds sprouted, but only the seed that fell into good soil and received the proper care sprouted and produced fruit. The other seeds sprouted but soon died off.

The disciples were curious about this strange story and asked Jesus to explain it to them. Here is an interesting Gnostic parable that helps to explain what the Kingdom of God is all about. The sowing of the seed is compared to the spreading of the message about the goodness of God. The soil is the hearts and souls of the people who hear about it. The different types of soil or ground represent the ways in which people deal with information about God. Some let the cares of the world interfere with their getting to know God. Others are distracted by materialism. Still others are overcome with unbelief. The seeds that fall into the fertile soil are the ones who stay planted and become rooted in an understanding and knowledge of God. They pursue the path of gnosis—a personal knowing of God.

Religion when used for the purpose of growing people’s faith, helping and serving the world, and pursuing a growing understanding of God can be a powerful force for sharing love in our world and a positive force for good. When it becomes exclusive and closes in on itself, it traps people. That is why finding a community of believers that supports a personal relationship with God and that actively reaches out to help the surrounding community is a powerful support in one’s own spiritual journey. It is nice to have company along the way, and often times many can accomplish what one cannot do alone.

Just imagine what could happen in all the religions of the world if God were invited in? If love were the basis for their organizing and serving were the mission—what a transformation we would see in all of the religions of the world. They would truly be a light on a hill.

Religion is made up of individuals. What its members do depends upon what type of soil is in their hearts. Change happens one person at a time. Unbelief, materialism, and a shallow experience of God are the obstacles we face to becoming truly fruitful in the world and making it a better place.

We read in the book of Revelation about a time when all that is beautiful and loving will reign on earth. We are called to bear witness of that and to become instruments of shining God’s love and light into our dark world. In fact it talks of a time when the Son of God will be the light and that there will be no more need of the sun because God lives there and is the Source of light. Summer will have come.

Let God’s love become firmly grounded in your heart and let it blossom in your heart as you grow in your understanding and knowledge of the beauty of God’s kingdom.