God’s Kingdom is Like…

Photo by Tina Witherspoon on Unsplash

 

Jonah 3:10-4:11
Psalm 145:1-8
Philippians 1:21-30
Matthew 20:1-16

God’s kingdom is like, is a phrase found seven times in chapter 13 of Matthew and once each in chapters 20, 22, and 25, for a total of ten. In each case Jesus tells us a little more about the Kingdom.

If we read all ten together, we might notice that the Kingdom is action. Seeds are planted, crops are harvested, bread is leavened, treasures are sought, fish are caught. There is no parable from Jesus that includes a soft recliner and a big-screen TV.

We will also notice, especially in today’s reading, that God’s mercy is able to make the work easy. His mercy allows us to see what needs doing. His mercy gives us the courage to do it. Being a Kingdom citizen involves being an imitation Jesus every day. It is not about our being a perfect imitation, God’s mercy will smooth out the rough spots.

If we look beyond the ten parables in Matthew to Abraham, Moses, and David, we will notice that the Kingdom is filled with people who are called by God and who make the correct response to the call.

The idea of responding to God’s call put in my mind the 70s song, The Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. It’s about a man who intends to be involved in his son’s life but never seems to find the time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etundhQa724

We Christians have the same problem. I’ll get to that, God, as soon as I finish this paperwork, this project, this plan, this building, this…

We are ambassadors of God here where we live now. If I had been appointed to be the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom and I spent most of my time seeing the sights in London and eating fish-an-chips, I would have been fired.

Yet, we claim as Christians to be His Ambassadors and we fail to do our jobs. Now, God understands that we are not living in Heaven, that we must make a living and try to stay alive. But what’s to stop us from doing our Kingdom work while doing our earthly work? Talk to coworkers. Help them with their problems. Just be a friend. I’m not talking about badgering them into coming to church or preaching during lunch. Just be there. Be aware. Notice who is down, who needs a good word.

Notice that Jesus did not force himself on people. Mostly they sought him out. In a few cases, Jesus asked question which lead to him helping someone.

No doubt there were people standing near Jesus when he told the parable of hiring workers for the vineyard who were upset that the owner paid the same amount no matter how many hours were worked. Now, many jobs calculate the minutes worked and pay a per/minute rate. A century ago, most American workers expected to be paid a dollar a day. So, if someone came to work for only a couple of hours to receive the dollar, there would have been an uprising.

The difference is that there is no time clock in Heaven. We are not even paid on piece work (likely a good thing for many of us). We all will receive the same reward; Peter, John, Paul, you and me. Mercy rules.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Why Do You Pass Judgment on Your Brother?

Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

 

Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 103:1-13
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

At first, this section of Romans seems trivial to us, but the questions about food were hot topics in the early church. Probably the hottest issue had to do with eating meat because much of the meat sold, especially in Rome, was left over from sacrifices made at many of the temples of Roman and Greek gods. Would a Christian be defiled if he ate such meat?

Here, Paul basically answers with a no. If it bothers you, then don’t eat it. If it doesn’t bother you, then eat away. Most Jews who became followers of Jesus continued to practice their strict rules of eating: no meat from false gods, no clams, no shrimp, no chicken in cream sauce, etc. They tended to treat the gentile followers of Jesus as unsaved, or at least half saved. Likewise, the gentiles considered the Jews to be too prissy.

It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actionsPhillips This is the key to these 12 verses. God knows that when I was a baby my mother dropped me on my head. He knows that I grew up eating beef liver and onions and thinking it was great. He knows that I had five girlfriends in first grade even thought they never knew it.

So many things happen to us that shape who we are. We control only a few of them. I was born in a small farming community in the United States during the Second World War. I missed the experience of living in a major city or in France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Russia, Japan. All those experiences would have changed who I am today. I grew up in the large shadow of WWII and thought of it as The War, as did the adults. In 1966 I went to be tested, poked, and probed by the military to see if I was draftable. I was which encouraged me to be more diligent in my college studies and my teaching school which kept me deferred from the draft. Did I doge the draft? Some believed it then and some still do.

Who would I be today if I had been sent to Viet Nam? Would God forgive me for killing a seven-year-old girl because she appeared to have a bomb strapped to her? How about if I had become addicted to heroin?

More to the question in today’s reading, would you forgive me?

Many Christians attack homosexuals, saying that it is a life choice and is condemned by Jesus. No, Jesus had nothing to say about it and maybe, for some it is a choice. Science has established that most homosexuals have a genetic error that places them on the difficult side of the issue. I is generally not just a question of will power.

I will not judge a homosexual Christian. Let God sort it out.

My Grandmother (three of my Grands died before my parents married) I learned years later was abusive of her four children even as adults. Knowing that helped me understand my father more, and my mother as well because she was caught in the flack.

God alone will judge.

If you have read many of my posts, you will know I am not happy with our current President. I am also unhappy with the many Christians who think he is God’s gift to us. Live and let live. I don’t know that God will be too concerned about my voting record. Try your best to pick a good person and remember that Jesus paid almost no attention to government.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence