This morning I was re-reading the parables from Matthew 13. They are beautiful and relevant and, sometimes, challenging. Here are a few thoughts.
Knowledge of God's Kingdom is a gift (Matthew 13:11). When we read the words ... "The knowledge of the Kingdom of God has been given to you but not to them." It almost seems gnostic and elitist. But if you read on you find that this knowledge comes through seeing and hearing. Seeing and hearing require the intentionality of watching and listening. Is a gift that requires intentionality and effort a real gift? I wonder if other gifts are like that? I have a gift of loving music but I have found that the more I work at it the better the gift seems to operate. Sally has a gift for preparing great food, but I wonder how much that gift has been developed by reading recipes, trial and error and just plain hard work? When I read the real intent of the parables I find something a bit disturbing ... they are sent to cull, separate and identify the faithful. Those willing to search, seek, study, listen, watch, wait and work are the ones who will receive the gift of the parables teaching.
God is the lead actor in the little vignettes we call parables. God is the sower who plants seed in the world. God sowed good seed. God planted the mustard seed. God is presented as the woman who worked yeast into the flour. God sit all to find His treasured possession ... His fine pearls (there is nothing we could sell to buy salvation ... only God deals in currency that will pay our penalty, give us forgiveness, lead us to His place. God is the only one qualified to separate the weeds from the good plants and the bad fish from the good fish. That brings the parables into a new light, doesn't it?
So ... what is god trying to say to the disciples and me? 1) Be persistent! One of the churches I served had a short statement printed on the weekly newsletter. Know God, Love God, Serve God. None of these things are easy. When I sat in my little office in Kentucky, with frozen feet, 11:30 PM and still working (knowing 5 AM was on the way), wading intentionally through a 2 Peter passage I was reminded that this 'gift' of learning, knowing, serving and expressing love in seeking God was hard. But one of the Super Bowl coaches said, "if you're any good at all, you know you can be better." Working, striving and seeking are part of how we "get" the parables or any other Bible passage. 2) Be watching/listening! The implication of Matthew 13:15 is that God's people have become calloused, not hearing or seeing. But if they "see with their eyes and hear with their ears" something astounding will happen ... they will "understand with their hearts" and be healed.
THAT is the final point here. Jesus gives us this gift so we can be made whole, well and complete. And that is great news! Randy