Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
The Kingdom, Part 6
Yesterday we concluded our brief look at Jesus' teachings on the nature of the Kingdom as outlined in the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast. We discovered that once they withdrew from the crowds, Jesus explained the meanings of the parables to His disciples (Mk. 4:34). However, Christ's actual explanation was not recorded. Therefore, the two popular explanations (i.e., the mustard seed and yeast are symbolic of the Church growing from small beginnings or that they represent God's 'hidden' workings) are both plausible.
Photography has been around for many years, but camera cell phones created a new trend--taking pictures of oneself or even group photos, known as "selfies." At The Salvation Army's Boundless International Congress in London, June 2015, many gathered to express their identification with The Salvation Army's world-wide ministry, and selfies were rapidly being snapped and posted on social media. Even General Andre Cox, and Mrs.
Commissioner Sylvia Cox, could be seen posing for selfies with delegates.
I wonder what our selfies with Jesus would look like??! Would we be recognizable as belonging to Him; are we seen identifying with Christ? Today we will consider some parables that focus on describing Kingdom members-- the difference between those who are Kingdom members and those who may think that they are, but in reality they are not.
Jesus used parables that center on the sifting process, separating those whom have met the requirement of being Kingdom members from those who have not. These include the parables of: the Sheep and the Goats (Mt. 25:31-46); the Wheat and the Weeds (Mt. 13: 24-30;36-43); and the Fish Net (Mt. 12: 47-51). Not only is there a culling process, but the sorting is done on the basis of good and evil--or as Keith Green put it, "The only difference between these people [the sheep and the goats] is what they did and didn't do.
So, if we could take a selfie with Jesus, where would we stand in the sifting process? Would others be able to identify us as sheep, as wheat, as good fish? Or maybe we think those are the categories that we are in--belonging to Jesus. If we are not, then we may fool others by saying the right words and doing the right things; because, “Looks aren’t everything...God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart, ” (1 Sam. 16:7, MSG). Before we can invite others to become part of the Kingdom, we need to make sure that we are members. Otherwise, how can we offer/give to others what we ourselves do not possess?
To be continued tomorrow.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)