This past Sunday, our pastor covered the "parable of the soils" found in Luke 8. Out of this, I came away with three reasons why we shouldn't give up on evangelizing people.
1) The sower's job is to sow the seed indiscriminately.
Our pastor told us that parables almost always have something included that is a surprise. It is that element of surprise that we need to pay close attention to, because it is usually central to the parable.
In the case of this parable, the surprise element is that the sower is not picky at all where he sows the seed. He scatters seed on all four of the different soils.
You don't have to be a farmer to know this is odd. Anyone who has every planted a garden or some flowers knows that good soil is the key to growth. I doubt anyone would consider trying to plant a tree in the middle of their driveway, a rose garden on their front porch, or their cherry tomatoes on the sidewalk. Instead, you are going to put these plants in the ground where they will grow.
So this picture may seem a little odd to us at first, even though we can clearly see and acknowledge that it is true. From the picture of this parable, as well as other places in Scripture, it's clear that we are commanded to preach the gospel to everyone. The next two points clarify the first.
2) We must sow the seed this way, because we can't know what kind of soil we are sowing on.
The sower isn't digging furrows, he's casting seed out. If you've ever spread grass seed, then you know that some of it will end up on the driveway, some in the street, some in that one dead spot that seems to kill everything, and some in the yard. The sower doesn't really know where an individual seed goes, and he doesn't care. He won't even know whether some ground is too rocky, too thorny, or just right, because most likely he will be gone by the time that seed actually starts to grow.
For all these reasons, there is no way to know what kind of soil a person is, so we must focus on simply sharing the gospel.
3) God ultimately determines who is saved.
If we were to look at the Apostle Paul (or rather Saul the Pharisee), most likely we would have judged him as the wrong kind of person. The same with many other followers of God throughout the Bible. Ultimately, we are all just dirt trodden down into the hard path that nothing will penetrate. It is God who ultimately turns that hard dirt into soil that is able to grow things. It is God through His Word that turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.
So it is up to us, as faithful followers, to go out and spread the seed of the gospel to everyone we meet, regardless of the likelihood of their conversion, trusting God that He will till the soil, and cultivate the life that Peter describes as being "born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, thought the living and abiding word of God."