The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (vv. 27–28). Note first that growth happens “automatically.” When good seed falls on prepared ground, it will sprout and grow. The power for that growth lies in the seed itself. It’s the powerful Word that will accomplish that for which it has been sent.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at my desk in my office in Munich, Germany, thinking about the newest statistics about Christianity in Germany. According to the numbers in front of me, Christianity is in rapid decline. The country where the Reformation began five hundred years ago will soon have a majority of the population who don’t call themselves Christians. Even seventy years ago in post–World War II Germany, 95 percent of the people were members either of the Roman Catholic Church or of a Protestant church. Just in 2018, the Protestant state churches lost another 2 percent of their members. But even more alarming is that of members of the Protestant state churches, an average of only 3.4 percent attend a church service on any given Sunday, which amounts to less than 1 percent of the population in Germany. The number of Christians in free (non-state) churches continues to be negligible. Even more alarming is the trend toward liberalism in nearly all denominations. At times, it seems as if preaching the gospel in Germany is a waste of time. Should I simply give up and go to a place where the good news will be more eagerly received?