Posted by George Morrison

Rural Ireland descended on the Ploughing Championships at Athy in large numbers making the event the largest outdoor agricultural show in Europe. Aided by the dry weather and numerous cups of tea, business was brisk in the Baptist Associations Marquee which was our “home” for the 3 days. Some things never change and again we found the almost universal view that you will get to heaven by being good. Of course there are religious observations, mass going and pilgrimages but these seem to be more the props in the theatre of salvation. Basically you get there by being and doing good, of that there was a general air of certainty. Here was solid ground. It was bred into us. If we are going to be saved it will be on our record – and that record, we were told, was not all that bad. The Bible cuts a furrow through this type of thinking. It buries the weeds of our own ideas and performances under the coulter of the plough. In their place it reveals the fact that we are all sinners. There are no exceptions.  Any righteousness we may think we have the Bible likens to filthy rags.  God’s standard is infinitely higher than ours. How then can we be saved? Jesus said God’s word is the seed. Where it lands in good ground it becomes fruitful but first it must die. Jesus likened himself to that seed which had to die to bring forth life.  Out of his death for sinners is born new life for believers. Who are these believers? They are those who have died to self and turned to Jesus to receive this new life. They love him and as his Spirit enables them, they live for him. As one old-timer said, “less would not satisfy and more is not desired”. He is the incomparable Christ. What sort of furrow are you ploughing? Is your eye fixed on the marker which is Christ? Have you died to the old life of self effort and performance and put on the new life of serving Jesus? The change happens at the cross. The life of service begins not by returning to the rags of “good works” but by his transforming grace making everything we do an offering to him. As St Paul said to the Church at Colosse it was not a different furrow but having put our hand to the plough we do not look back, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.