And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. ~~Matthew 13:4
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.~~Matthew 13:19
One of my favorite comic book characters is Maria Hill. If you know comics, and if you combine that knowledge with the fact that I love Captain America, that might shock you, considering how the two seem completely opposite. I don’t think they are, really, I just think they’ve had different upbringings that led them to different ways of accomplishing the same desire.
Maria’s mother died giving birth to her, a fact which her abusive, alcoholic father never forgave her. He beat her and neglected her and blamed her for her mothers death. (Knowing what I know of abuse now I think he was actually angry because Maria took away his larger punching bag.)
Maria grew up hard and cold. She joined the Marines, distinguished herself enough to be tapped by SHIELD, then went on to oppose Captain America in the lamest story line comic books ever created…The Civil Wars. (But don’t even get me started.)
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with the Bible, and Jesus, and parables. No, it’s not just an excuse for me to talk about one of my old favorite hobbies. It’s that, when I was considering “a path,” Maria Hill was the first person that popped into my head.
The path that Jesus references here wouldn’t have been a sidewalk, it would have been a dirt path. It also wouldn’t have been created by any sort of machine, it would have been made by repeated foot traffic.
How does one’s soul become a footpath?
If you consider that question for just a moment, I think you will see why I thought about Maria Hill. She is hard, she seems compassion-less (though if she truly was she’d have ended up a terrorist or a soldier of fortune instead of trying to protect the free world…why people miss that I don’t know).
If you shared the Gospel with Maria Hill she’d cock an eyebrow at you as her mind processed her life, all the things she’d seen and been subjected to, all the things she’d seen people do to others, then she’d probably call you a bad name and walk away.
And, you’d probably say, “Well, the birds came and ate up that seed.” And never even stop to consider why that was possible.
People like this reject the gospel because they have been walked all over. They have seen such great evil in their lives that to believe there is a God would raise more questions than we have answers. They have to deal with the world in a concrete manner or else they will become just like the people who abused them and made them hard.
When we don’t understand that the person we are speaking with is not solely responsible for the condition of their soul, we will write them off, we will never be able to minister to them at all because we refuse to see the fact that their soul has been crushed and hardened by very real pain.