Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Transformers--It is more than meets the eye

Kim, in her comment on my blog, was utterly brilliant. The parables of Matthew 13 are all about transformation. Written like someone who was sat under the teaching of John Ortberg for a little while! And stupid me could not see it well enough to say it. Nevertheless, my sermon work is not complete.

I have several tasks. First of all, I think this discussion of smallness (in the first part) and single-mindedness (in last "gem" parables) need to be integrated into the concept of transformation and how it works.

Next, I think the thinking inspired by Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis needs to be integrated. Specifically, that the kingdom is about service and sacrifice and we have made it about power and control. And that maybe it is our weakness and inadequacy that makes us qualified to be kingdom workers, not our competence and our skills.

And also, I am thinking about discussing the word "surrender" as a metaphor of faith, especially after talking to a Moslem visitor who wanted to understand my faith.

Any of you have any helpful comments and stories to add to this.


Kim Traynor said...

You are an ambitious man! Lots of stuff here!

When looking at all of these metaphors it is important to remember that the objects represent the Kingdom of God, and the humans that encounter the objects represent us. (except the fishing metaphor, in which the fisherman represent angels.)

You are right that these people are not powerful, they are regular joes and joannes that no special qualifications.

Trying to connect some of your differnt points...they all kind of answer the question "how does the Kingdom work in these passages?"

1. The Kingdom of God transforms us by insinuating itself and growing and growing. You only need to let a little kingdom into your life in order for it to grow and transform you in amazing ways over time. (like the seed and the yest)

I was a very skeptical seeker. When I became I Christian it started with me just opening the door of my heart a crack. I wanted to let Jesus in but that was it. I said "Christ, there is nothing about you I don't love, I just can't deny you any more. But I still don't get the purity thing, or the church thing, or whats so bad about reincarnation...but you can come in." And he did and he grew and grew over time until those objections were overcome by his love and truth in my life.

2. The Kingdom of God transforms us by seperating good from evil,and in the final days will transform each into a new existence, either condemnation or eternal life. Until you encounter the kingdom of God it is like walking in darkness, you don't always know what is right and what is wrong. I think the weeding and fishing metaphors demonstrate that the Kingdom of God seperates good/truth/light from evil/deception/darkness.

3. The Kingdom of God transforms us by replacing our former treasures with a new and better one. Once you encounter the Kingdom the things you gave your life to before lose their appeal and you devote your life to an indestructable and heavenly treasure.

Friar Tuck said...

You have got me thinking but I think that it may be backwards.

The people in the story represent God. The farmer (Jesus says as much in his explaination). The fisherman. When you look in context of the parables of the sower, the weeds, and the nets that is what I see.

Here is what I have been meditating on. What if the mustard plant and the bread are us? What if the treasure is us? and the pearl? This is what I am thinking about.

Kim Traynor said...
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Kim Traynor said...

Maybe I'm wrong, but here is why I read it that way:

In the Parable of the Weeds (13:24-30) the farmer is anologous to God, because in those parables Jesus explains that "the Kingdom of God is like a man who sowed..."

However, in the verses that we are discussing (31-33, 41-52) "the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed/yeast/treasure/net" not a man. The only exception is the merchant, which I missed before.

Now I see that what I thought was just redundancy was actually two different metaphors - one was about a man being willing to give it all for God (or God's Kingdom) and another was about God being willing to give it all for what He treasures (foreshadowing Christ's crucifixion.)

I don't think the fisherman fits into the God category for a couple of reasons:

1. the metaphor doesn't say "the Kingdom of God is like a fisherman" it says "the Kingdom of God is like a net" and

2. If you look at v39-41, Christ's explanation of the Parable of the Weeds (also about the Judgement), it is the angels that do the seperating, so I think that in this particular parable the Kingdom of God is the net, the fish are the people, and the angels are the fishermen.

As you can probably tell from my interpretation, I read "kingdom of God" to be synonomous with "work" or "will" of God. Thus the word following "The Kingdom of God is like..." in each of the metaphors represents the God side of the equation and the receiving object (the farmer with his garden, the woman baking bread, the fish being hauled from the sea, the man who finds the treasure, the pearl) represents us.

Clint, thank you so much for starting this conversation! I haven't poured over a single passage of the Bible this way in a long time...too long! It's always amazing at the unique message God has hidden in His Word for each of us just when we need it!