the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Year A - Proper 12

The Gospel text this week is Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

In our text we have 5 parables about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is like a grain of mustard seed, it is like yeast a woman put in bread, it is like treasure hidden in a field, it is like a man in search of fine pearls, it is like a great fish net.

Here is a great quote from bloomingcactus

To what would you compare the Kingdom of Heaven? It is like finding the technology stock you bought in the 1980s for $50 and suddenly realizing you are a millionaire. It is like the owner of DeBeers finally finding the perfect diamond and selling a billion dollar empire to have it. It is like the harassed physician tired of the HMOs, selling home and BMW and finding bliss in a mission in Congo. It is like the crack addict waking up with a clear head and is free to choose a new life.

What is first in my life? Where do I spend most of my time? What consumes most of my energy and thought? What one thing, given the potential loss of everything, would I cling to in desperation?

First we need to know what Jesus may have meant by Kingdom of God. Of course it is not possible to reach back into history and read Jesus' mind. But there are some indications that we can come close to understanding what he meant. Consider the following:

A Kingdom is usually a place which causes one to think of heaven as the place of God's Kingdom.

Kingdom sometimes refers to the people who live within the realm controlled by a King who have subjected themselves to his rule. In this case we could point to the Church as the kingdom of God on Earth.

The greek word translated kingdom is basileia {bas-il-i'-ah}. As with many words in greek, this word can take on different meanings when trying to translate it into English.

From the Friberg lexicon:

1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule 1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom 1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah 1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom 2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king 3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah.
One of the meanings of basileia should be mentioned here. Unlike the English word Kingdom, basileia can also refer to the royal power, kingship, dominion, rule: the right or authority to rule over a kingdom. This means that in the New Testament, the term Kingdom of God may refer to God's rule or authority over us.

The Kingdom is like a mustard seed, that starts out very small but grows into a large plant. In Mt. 17:20, Jesus compares the faith of the disciples to the faith of the little mustard seed that begins its life with so much work ahead of it, but eventually becomes a very large plant. Here God's kingdom or God's rule over our lives begins as small as a tiny mustard seed, but has the potential to become very great. If we give our lives over to God's rule we begin by taking small steps at first, but have the potential become totally surrendered to God.

The Kingdom is like yeast that a woman puts into the dough and it spreads throughout. God's rule over us begins as a little bit of yeast but eventually it will consume our every being if we learn to let go and let God. In the world, the rule of God spreads like the yeast in a batch of dough, causing the entire batch to rise and become more than it originally was capable of.

The Kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. The story goes on to tell of a man who discovered the treasure. But the field was not his. He hid the treasure again then went and bought the field, so that when he unearthed it again, it would be rightfully his.

The Kingdom is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. One day he finds the most perfect and most beautiful pearl he has ever seen. He must have it. He sells all that he has and purchases this one pearl. I can't help but be reminded of the rich man who came to Jesus enquiring about how to achieve eternal life. Even though he had kept the laws of Moses religiously all his life, he still did not have his heart in the right place. His heart was set on this worldly possessions. When Jesus told him to go and sell what he had, give the proceeds to the poor, and then come and follow him, the man went away dejected. But God's rule over our lives demands first place. He must be the most important. Is your love for God and your desire for his rule over your life such that you must have it. Will you give every thing you have to be under God's rule.

The Kingdom is like a great net when thrown into the sea it catches fish of every kind. Here, I think, the point is diversity. As in the parable of the different types of soil, Jesus here is talking about God's rule, the net, gathering in diverse peoples. People of every color, of every ethnic group, of every nationality, of every persuading. Paul says in Galatians 3:28 "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.


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