“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:43-50 Building the body of Christ often must go beyond the usual relationships. Although the old city of Jerusalem is known for it’s walls, we do not have to be within those walls to experience God’s presence. Christ has broken down the barriers and the measuring lines now over extends in order that all who do God’s will are included in his Kingdom. Let us not cut ourselves off by drawing our own line and building those “walls” back up again.
“… for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Mark 10:1-16 The earliest gift I remember receiving as a child was a green bicycle for Christmas. Although it came with training wheels on it, that following summer my father took my sister and I to the parking lot of a neighborhood school, removed the training wheels and taught us to ride a two-wheeler! I was 4 years old. As I think back on it the true gift was the look on my dad’s face. He had a tremendous smile as I rode all around that lot. I think the Kingdom of God is full of images just like that one. Let us not deny the Father every opportunity to smile.
“Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:20-37 Traveling through Krueger National Park in South Africa gave me a different kind of appreciation for life and death. It was nothing like the Bush Gardens Animal Kingdom I visited as a child. In South Africa we rode in an open vehicle as we watched life in this kingdom around us. Up close I saw four of the “big five” animals and a host of other wildlife including a group of vultures perched on a dead tree. Jesus’ discourse about the Kingdom of God being among them and the condition of days when the Son of Man is revealed, ends with the disciples asking where all of this will happen? His response was simply; “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Vultures are highly intelligent birds yet serve as natures janitor. They feast on what is dead and decaying. Although they are very important to the ecosystem, Jesus makes clear that what is dead has no place in the Kingdom of God. There are those whose purpose is to feast on what is dead and decaying. We are called to life but if we become like those in the days of Noah and the days of Sodom the “vultures” will gather around us as well.
“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Luke 12 13-31 Growing up as a child my mother used to say that she never knew she was poor. She could not remember when she did not have food to eat, a place to stay and white gloves on Sunday. She accomplished many things in her life and yet she would tell you that her greatest possession was God’s love for her, her love for God, and the love she had for her family, exactly in that order. Wealth by the world’s standards consists of many possessions. But blessed by God’s grace and mercy it is for us to look past the world’s standards, seek Wisdom and live according to God’s truth; according to God’s love.
Luke 12:13-31 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy.
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.