This week, we'll be looking at two short parables found in Matthew 13:31-33.
I want you to imagine that, a little over 2000 years ago, a group of highly intelligent, accomplished saints came to God the Father in Heaven’s throne room with their plan to redeem the world. I picture a couple of mega-church pastors, a few successful CEOs, a marketing guru or two, and maybe even a few military commanders and Hall of Fame coaches. I know they didn’t have any of those things 2 millennia ago…just work with me, people. I picture the conversation going a little something like this:
“Lord, the world you created is a mess. Something has to be done!”
Oh….you figured that out all on your own, did you? Well, what do you propose?
“Funny you should ask, Father. We’ve come up with a wonderful plan to straighten things out down there. We propose a pre-emptive, unilateral, full-scale invasion. You charge in with some of these angelic warriors you’ve got around here in sort of a shock-and-awe thing and, frankly, Lord, just the sight of them will scare the sin out of most of the world. But there will undoubtedly be some hard cases, so you wipe them out, make an example of them, and poof! Hasta la vista, evil! But that’s just step one.”
“Step two is that we set up a new-and-improved way of getting your message across. I know that for centuries, you’ve had the Law and the Prophets to help your people know how to live. But with all due respect, it hasn’t so much worked out, has it? The Law is a beautiful thing, and you obviously put a lot of work into it, but honestly, it’s pretty hard for people to get into. We don’t like to use the word “boring,” but let’s just say there are more…appealing ways to present your core values than a bunch of rules carved on a rock. And we’ve looked into these prophets, and our one-word response is, seriously? You’ve got Elijah, a hairy man wearing a leather loincloth, roasting people with fire from heaven. Elisha’s basically Elijah, but bald. Moses has a murder rap, Isaiah runs around buck naked, Jeremiah’s a crybaby, and Ezekiel’s visions indicate he’s been eating the wrong mushrooms, if you know what we mean. Hosea’s okay, but his wife is a prostitute…really.”
“So we propose Covenant 2.0. You set up some very clear, concise, compelling guidelines for life. You get some real attractive people to spread your message for you…athletes, entertainers, successful business people. You want a good face on this thing. And you set your bar high. No more of this “Send me your widows, orphans and aliens” stuff. Make it an exclusive thing, like the club everyone wants to get into. It’ll feed on itself, you see.”
But that's not how God did it, is it? In fact, if you look back through the history of God’s actions in this world, He does His most important work through people who seem small, insignificant, or even disreputable. This isn’t something He does occasionally just to prove a point. It’s His standard MO. It’s not that He doesn’t love people who are wealthy, successful, or attractive. But every person He chose in Scripture had some serious mark against them. Yet He chose them anyway. That’s the point of these two parables: God’s Kingdom starts in insignificance. Why does He do that? And what does that mean for us as a church and as individuals? Those are the questions we'll be exploring this Sunday.