02 June 2010

Jesus Teaches about Kingdom Potency

Matthew 13:31-33

In a free market culture, the landscape is filled with markets.  The more markets there are, the harder it is for a market to convince potential consumers of the value of their product and/or service.  Some marketing theories logically suggest that a loud, big introduction is needed in order for that market to grab the attention of enough consumers.  Further still, the marketing must include as many testimonials from as many influential, charismatic people as possible in order for potential customers to give serious consideration to their product/service.

Sadly, I think many churches have bought in to this kind of thinking.  In a free religious culture, the landscape is filled with churches/temples.  The more churches/temples there are, the harder it is for a church/temple to convince potential consumers of the value of what they have to offer.  Some church marketing theories logically suggest that a loud, big introduction is needed in order for that church/temple to grab the attention of enough potential members.  Further still, the church marketing must include as many testimonials from as many influential, charismatic people as possible in order for potential members to give serious consideration to their service.

But Jesus teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven isn't introduced into a foreign land through the spectacular and it doesn't influence through the ascetically beautiful.  Jesus compares the Kingdom not to great architectural works or powerful armies.  "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed...The kingdom of heaven is like yeast..."

Consider Jesus himself.  He was conceived in a young, poor girl engaged to a poor carpenter.  His birth was announced by angels to shepherds, not kings, but shepherds.  He was born in a small town before moving into a small town with not much of a reputation.  Unlike most of our traditional depictions of Jesus as a tall man with long, flowing hair and deep, blue eyes, Jesus was more than likely, if the Bible is to be believed, rather plain looking.  "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." 

Most of his ministry was spent moving through rural regions from small town to small town preaching good news to the poor.  His disciples were poor, uneducated small businessmen and people who had struggled through physical and spiritual ailments for most of their lives (and their family and friends).  Yes, he performed many miracles and healed many people.  But he did not choose who he would heal based on their potential influence, but simply on whether they believed he could heal them.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?  Apparently, according to Jesus, something that starts very small and when sowed grows to be something quite large where many created beings come and find their need for rest and shelter.  Apparently, according to Jesus, something that starts very small and when kneaded into the dough, does not completely change the substance of the dough.  Rather, it turns the dough soft and larger and flavourful.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the big and spectacular, except that not everyone has the capacity for the big and spectacular.  But, all that is needed to change a dark place is to bring in the smallest of lights.  All that is needed to change a despairing people is to bring the smallest of hope .  All that is needed to change a hostile land is to bring in an attitude of hospitality.  All that is needed to change a selfish people is to bring the simple gifts of love displayed through generous service.  All of us who are created in our Father's image, in the King's image, are capable of these things.

This is what the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to.

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