I lead a Thursday morning Bible study. Recently, we have been working our way through the parables (often using the backdrop of Robert Capon’s amazing Kingdom, Grace, Judgment), and this morning, it was time for The Parable of the Sower. You can imagine how happy I was when fellow Mbirder, Ethan Magness posted this clip on Facebook last night, understating, “it’s a nice portrait of imputation.”

The Secret Santa is a perfect analogy for the Sower, who scatters seed willy-nilly across all types of ground. As a group this morning, we were struck by just how strange it is that the sower acts this way. Why wouldn’t he just put the seeds where he’s sure they’ll take root? It’s hard to gauge which ground is which, though, and we were all able to relay stories that made the point (e.g., friends who we thought would never stray from church but haven’t darkened the doors in years, as well as those who we had written off mistakenly). In this clip, we do not know which kind of soil characterizes this man’s heart. Obviously I hope he’s a fruit-bearer of the hundred-fold variety. He hopes so too. Notice too how the Sower treats the man like he’s “good ground” (“I can tell you’re a good person.”), even though we the viewers would naturally assume the opposite.

It’s unfortunate, though not surprising, that the commentators (and the recipient of the gift) are so quick to turn the story into a semi-Pelagian expression of the theology of glory. But the secret santa seems to have things nicely in check. It reminds me of a story that Michael Cooper once told in a comment thread on this site:

There’s a story about two lawyers who were walking into the court house in Montgomery, Alabama. As they reached the top of the steps to enter the building, a pan handler approached them. One of the lawyers pulled out a five dollar bill and gave it to the man, while the other lawyer looked on with skepticism. When the panhandler was gone, he said, “Why did you give him five dollars? You know he’s just going to drink it up.” To this, the other man said: “And if I didn’t give him five dollars, are you telling me that he would go on to become a brain surgeon?”

Speaking of secret santas (and discernment), I got you all a gift. Whether or not the seabird represents the holy spirit (dove) is up to you: