October 13, 2019 to November 24, 2019
October 13, 2019
Jesus came to give the world a new message…that we can have personal relationship with the God of the universe…that we can find hope and wholeness amid the chaos and struggles of this life…and that we will find eternal life with Him in heaven. Jesus also gave us the command to take that new message to a world that is anchored in the past so that newness of life in Christ can be theirs, as it is ours. The parable of New Cloth on an Old Garment means we must learn to change and adapt to be effective in our witness to the communities around us. Trying to fit the unchurched into our mold will not reach them. Offering them a new way of doing life in ways that meet them at their need will.
In hearing the parable of the sower, we often focus first on the types of soil in the story and work from there. I think it is more meaningful for us to start with the end of the story and work back…to goal of the believer is to yield fruit. How do we do it? We make sure that our spiritual soil is ready for growth. We loosen the hard-packed mess in our lives, make sure there is room in our hearts for God to grow, and take care to avoid the distractions that keep us from trusting God with our lives. Then we can properly grow in the Word of God so that our yield in serving Him will be great.
There is more to being a Christ follower than going to church and reading a few random passages of scripture. To truly be a disciple of Jesus, we have to be moving towards a goal, growing deeper in our relationship to Him through intentional study, thoughtful prayer, vibrant worship and loving outreach. The parable of the mustard seed as an image of the Kingdom of God is about how that Kingdom grows in us and what happens when it does. In the beginning, the tender, vulnerable shoots coming out of that tiniest of seeds needs to be cared for and nurtured. But when it is mature, it becomes a refuge, offering protection and nurture to others. That is our goal…to grow beyond needing to be nurtured into agents of Christ who care for and love others fully.
The wicked tenants in this parable had three problems, all of which could have been easily overcome. After all, the tenants Jesus was talking about were the Jews, particularly the religious leaders of the Jews and they were God’s chosen. But they chose to ignore their problems. First, they refused to believe that the owner (God) was the real authority in their lives…they thought they were. Second, they refused to give to the owner (God) what was agreed upon in rents (prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness). Finally, they refused to obey the reminders the owner (God) had given them to be faithful. Can we apply these failures to our own lives and learn how to live our lives as God’s faithful followers?
The Pharisees accused Jesus of using the power of Satan to do the miraculous things He did. Jesus reminded them that He served God, and that it would be ridiculous for Satan to allow Jesus to defeat Him as that would not serve Satan’s purposes at all. So comes the famous line: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” What about us? If we serve the Kingdom of God and the household of faith as followers of Christ, can we truly thrive if we allow division among us? God calls us to unity and harmony as we serve Him in community.
The parable of the Lamp shows us an important part of how we share the message of hope with the world...by being a beacon of light to the people in our lives at home, school, work, in the community and around the world. If we keep the light we have gained to ourselves, being inwardly focused to our own needs, we cannot live out the challenge God gives us to share Him fully with others. The fact is, it is not all about us and we cannot keep it to ourselves.
We see it all around us…the signs that the world is in chaos and in need of a Savior. In our faith journeys we are not preparing for something that will happen later, but for what is happening now. So the message we have received…the message of hope and salvation that we have been given to share…cannot wait for another day. You might have heard the old saying, “Ready, aim, FIRE!” But the urgency of the gospel often looks more like “Ready…FIRE…aim!”