Perhaps we should take some responsibility for what was about to happen. We’ve always tried to emphasize the importance of telling the truth. While the policeman is taking the accident report, my son faithfully offers; “I didn’t look both ways”. What! You just admitted to fault! I suppose we could chalk it up to inexperience on his part, but the number one unwritten rule in an auto accident is never admit to fault particularly, if you believe you’ve broken a written rule (in his case, at the stop sign, after making a full and complete stop, look both ways!) Let the insurance company figure it all out.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes we say things which we later wish we hadn’t said because the consequence or the price to be paid is too high or worse, we find our selves in a position of having to make a decision that challenges our integrity. Having to separate our feelings (who we believe our selves to be) from our image (how others perceive us) in order to “save face” can be very painful and sometimes damaging to the self. Soon enough we find that there is little room for falsehoods or grandiose facades. There will always be a time when we have to “put up or shut up.” King Herod, found himself in such a situation, desperately needing to be more important (perhaps than he really was) and in control of everything, everybody and every situation. However, when your integrity is on the line (that’s all the time) we should be more careful about making promises we don’t really want to keep (this is different from promises you make every effort to keep). At any rate, what’s a King with a foot in his mouth suppose to do?
Mark 6:23 …and he (King Herod) solemnly swore to her, “Whatever of ask me, I will give you, even half my kingdom.”
As we approach the 4thof July I’d like to begin this week talking a bit about Independence. As a citizen, we don’t always take the time to understand what it really means to have independence. According to the American Heritage dictionary, it has several similar meanings. One definition of independence, which is my personal favorite, is having sufficient income to enable one to live without working. Wouldn’t that be sweet? Some of us enjoy this kind of independence from birth while the rest of us strive towards such independence in our older years. A second definition means not to be governed by a foreign power. This is probably what the forefathers of our nation had in mind when drafting the Declaration of Independence. The repeated injuries and abuses by the King of Great Britain impelled the States to separate from the bonds of government, which subjected them to what they believed was absolute despotism. Still, another definition is to be free from the influence, or control of others. Was it not the hope of our parents before us, as it is for us as parents today, that our children grow to be free from the influence and control of others, particularly from those who purposely mislead and destruct? Although we are apart of an establishment, the government of the United States, we encourage our children to be leaders and independent thinkers. While our constitution is not perfect, it does provide us opportunity (although perhaps not necessarily equal) to expect these inalienable rights that are deserving and the right of every human being. I say all this because I believe Independence Day is a great opportunity to compare the physical against the spiritual.
When Christ wanted us to heed what he had to say he told a story. Jesus called it a parable. Although all parables have meaning, they don’t always have benefit to the hearer. One must be able to understand its meaning. Jesus said, (Mark 4:26-29) “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” The harder we try in this journey to take the fate of our own lives into our own hands, when fall, the greater the redemption in our own eyes seems to be. (But) our redemption, becomes our testimony; our own story about the seed that was planted and the growth through our experiences in the world that needed to take place. God’s presence of that seed, allows us to see that our fate has always been in God’s hands and that our fate is destined for something larger and more valuable than even we could imagine. It is then that the parables of the Kingdom are no longer riddled with metaphors to be deciphered. When we realize that the parables have taken on different meanings for us at various times in our lives, no longer are we prodigal but instead reconciled in our understanding of who God is and has always been. As we examine our selves in this journey and our own “perfect” imperfectness with the world, sometimes it is difficult to see what God sees in us. But when we consider the earthly relationship and its ultimate cycle of realization, which brings us back to the knowledge that indeed our Father can do anything, the Kingdom becomes clearer as we are able to see our selves in the parables for the benefit our own learning and ultimate growth.