"A sower went out to sow...Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:3b, 8)
I would like to believe that the guiding principle in my life is my relationship with God through Jesus Christ. More than any philosophy, political affiliation, or loyalty to my favorite sports team, that relationship shapes who I am as a person, how I treat others, the decisions and choices I make, and the way I view the world.
I say I would like to believe that is true because I know it is not always true. Sometimes I forget that I'm a Christian and act out in ways I later regret. Sometimes I let other forces shape me and guide me. Sometimes I am influenced by that which is NOT God. And sometimes I just plain get it wrong. However, I always try to return that grounding in God's love.
Living in a way that is pleasing to God requires tending to my spiritual well-being. I am fortunate because in many ways that's my job - sitting around thinking about God-stuff. But it has to be more than that, too. It has to include a back and forth with God and with God's messengers. Those messengers are people just like you who challenge me to think in new ways and see God working in ways I might otherwise miss if I'm just left alone with my own deep thoughts.
This back and forth comes from reading the Bible AND listening to what others have to say about what I read. It comes from looking for God's presence even in the darkest valleys and most mundane moments of life. And, it comes from committing to a way of living that isn't always the most popular and doesn't always lead to riches in this world today. And that's ok.
This is where the good soil from the Parable of the Sower comes in. For the seeds of faith to take root and flourish, we must prepare the soil upon which it falls. If we neglect our spiritual life, then the seeds of faith cannot flourish.
There are many other forces seeking to be the guiding principles of our lives. We must commit ourselves to being the good soil on which the seeds of faith may fall so that the gospel of Jesus Christ may be the most important force in shaping who we are.