Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?” Jesus answered, “The knowledge about the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them… The reason I use parables in talking to them is that they look, but do not see, and they listen, but do not hear or understand… As for you, how fortunate you are! Your eyes see and your ears hear. I assure you that many prophets and many of God’s people wanted very much to see what you see, but they could not, and to hear what you hear, but they did not” (Matt 13:10ff).
This passage used to bug me. I thought Jesus was somehow trying to hide God’s saving message from certain people by blinding them from seeing the truth, and revealing the truth of the Gospel to an elite few of close friends. I no longer think that is what’s going on here at all.
Why then does Jesus speak in confusing, mysterious parables that many cannot grasp? Why can’t they grasp their meaning?
Continue reading The Secrets of the Kingdom
I spent a long season of “waiting on God” for a vocation that would both utilize my gifts and impact the Kingdom. Nothing was more thrilling than those moments where God seemed to give me a glimpse of a vision of the kind of life I want to live. I wrote the following on August 15, 2006 in the midst of one of those glimpses.
Trucks run on fuel. Light bulbs and household appliances use electricity. Animals live on primal instincts. Human beings, however, when operating at their best, are run on things unseen — that is, hopes, dreams and aspirations.
It is a sad affair when a human being is just plodding along, day to day, merely functioning at an animal level – eating, drinking, and sleeping. Some add some fleshly pleasures to this mundane trio – sexual exploits, cheap thrills, or a rythmic drum beat in their ear. But this is not the way we were made to live. Continue reading Hangin’ on a Vision
Have you seen this recent piece of art making the rounds? It’s called “One Nation Under God.” As you can see, Jesus is front and center holding the U.S. Constitution which, according to this artist, was “inspired by God.”
Greg Boyd took this artist’s message to task on his blog, saying among other things: “Artistically speaking, it’s an excellent work. Theologically speaking, it incarnates, in the most graphic form imaginable, the sin of nationalistic idolatry.” Do you agree or disagree?
I love America. I think our constitution is a great humanly crafted foundational document and has served our nation very well. I am proud to be an American. However, I love the Kingdom of God far more, I pledge allegiance only to King Jesus, consider myself a citizen of heaven first and believe therefore we must guard carefully the distinct Jesus-shaped ideals for which Jesus died and of which Christians are called to advance. We must be vigilant to guard against the careless blurring of the gross differences between the America of our founding fathers and the Kingdom of our Crucified Lord.
What do you think of this artist’s interpretation of America’s political and religious roots? Check it out HERE.
In his book The Secret Message of Jesus Brian McLaren offers several metaphors to help get our minds around the meaning of “The Kingdom of God.” Today’s kingdom metaphor is “The Dream of God.”
“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This prayer of Jesus seems to be an urgent plea for God to bring His Kingdom reality to earth as in heaven. Here Jesus equates the Kingdom with God’s will being actualized. Brian McLaren draws from this insight in suggesting a second metaphor.
“Since the language of “will” can take us down a trail of control, domination, and coercion, and since I don’t believe those ideas are in Jesus’ mind at all, I have looked for other words. The Greek word that lies beneath our English word will can also be translated wish. But to say, “May your wish come true” sounds rather fairy-tale-ish and creates other problems. But I have found the idea of “the dream of God for creation” does the job quite nicely. “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” could thus be rendered “May all your dreams for your creation come true.” This language suggests a more personal, less mechanistic relationship between God and our world. It would resonate, for example, with a mother who has great dreams for her child, or a coach who has great dreams for her team, or an artist who has great dreams for a novel or painting or symphony he is creating, or a teacher who has highs dreams for his students.
It also gives us language to talk about evil and sin in the world: these are nightmares for God. In creating our world, God wasn’t dreaming of prisons and kidnapping, child abuse and racism, greed and poverty, pollution and exploitation, conformity and chaos. God’s dream was for freedom and creativity, kindness and justice, generosity and peace, diversity and harmony.
This metaphor also gives us a responsible and creative role to play. If we dream of using or controlling others, raping the environment, ignoring the poor, perpetrating racism and other forms of injustice, or simply being lazy or selfish, we are ruining God’s dream: our dreams are opposing God’s dreams. The call to repentance is the call to rethink our dreams and realize their incompleteness or even destructiveness. The call to faith is the call to trust God and God’s dreams enough to realign our dreams with God’s, to dream our little dreams within God’s big dream. The call to receptivity is the call to continually receive God’s dreams—a process that, in my experience at least, seems to be a lifelong one. The call to baptism is the call to publicly identify with God’s dream and to disassociate with all competing –isms or ideologies that claim to provide the ultimate dream (including nationalism, consumerism, hedonism, conservatism, liberalism, and so on). And the call to practice is the call to learn to live the way God dreams for us to live” (The Secret Message of Jesus, pg. 140-142).