Over the past few months, I have been pondering a new song by John Mark McMillan titled, “The Road, The Rocks, and The Weeds.” It is part of his newly released album, Peopled With Dreams, that may have been missed by some due to it’s release date just prior to the onset of the COVID pandemic in the United States. For me, this song digs deep into the parable of the sower told by Jesus and contrasts the image of God presented there as it compares to the prevailing image represented by many in the American Evangelical subculture. It’s a message that is very relevant to the times we are going through on a global scale and in the United States, in particular.
Understanding this song, begins with clarifying our understanding of the Word, symbolized by the seed, in Jesus’ parable. I grew up interpreting this as the written or spoken message about Jesus shared through proclamation evangelism. The sower was simply a preacher sent to proclaim a message. In the worldview of Jesus and His early followers, though, Jesus was the Word of the Kingdom. The messenger was the message. Jesus’s actions were as much a part of the message He proclaimed as any words that came out this His mouth. In Jesus, ‘the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14)
In this line of thinking, it was Jesus Himself who was scattered on the roadway and among the rocks and weeds. He was the one who walked among the hurting and broken. He spent time with those who were seen as the least of these and walked with them in their pain and misunderstanding. Sometimes Jesus was breaking up very hard soil in order to see it become the type of soil in which the message of His Kingdom could take root, grow, and flourish. It is this same Jesus who walks with the wounded and broken in the midst of their pain today.
There are many times, though, that the image of God that is presented by those who claim to follow Him looks more like the aloof gods of the Greek pantheon who sit on Mt. Olympus and play with humanity for their own entertainment. We seem to want to be untouched by the pain of this world. Many have become so obsessed with holding on to power that they see the cries of the oppressed as a threat to their place of privilege, while they sanctimoniously tell others to “get over it” and “pull themselves up” from the hardships they have found themselves in. To prove the point, we’ll showcase those people who have climbed our cultural Olympus and have reached the heights of prosperity and success.
As followers of Jesus, though, we are called to live a different kind of life. We are called to live like Him. We are called to live our lives scattered among the brokenness of our world and bring life into the desolate places. Perhaps God is using this season to scatter us. He may be getting out of our Olympus-sized temples to bring us in touch with the need of our world again.
Take a listen. Meditate on the words of this song. Let God speak to you about where He wants to scatter you among the road, the rocks and the weeds of life.