I admit. It is very difficult to write a blog and a sermon in the same week. I guess I am still getting my feet wet with the whole preacher thing. In case you are wondering, I would describe the first 4 weeks as follows:
Week 1 - "I'm lost."
Week 2 - "I can't believe I am getting paid to do this."
Week 3 - "Ohhh...Now I understand why they are paying me."
Week 4 - "They are not paying me near enough."
Actually, it has been a blessing in so many ways. It has challenged me to trust God in ways I would have overlooked in the comfort of my known world of health care. I have always been dependent on God. It's just that I realize that more now than ever. It's a good place to be because God always proves Himself to be faithful beyond what we can ask or imagine. We realize that most when we relinquish our control in exchange for His promised provision. To the praise of His glory!
As for the blog, let's talk about the recent sermon series.
We are in the middle of the parables. A great summer series and I have personally benefited from the preparation. Here is something that surprised me though. Each of the 3 parables we have done so far were used by Jesus to teach us something about the kingdom of God. Three parables, chosen randomly, from different points in the gospel narrative, all pointing to the kingdom.
The Good Samaritan begins with the question, "How do I enter the kingdom of heaven?". The Wheat the Weeds, the most obvious parable about the reality that Jesus, as King, chose to establish His kingdom on earth in the presence of an evil world. And this week, the Two Builders. A parable that serves as a closing statement to the Sermon on the Mount which is an extended dialogue about the righteousness required for guess what...that's right - the kingdom of God, inaugurated at the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Kingdom, Kingdom, Kingdom. This seems to be very important to Jesus and a consistent theme of His teaching. I suggest we listen.
But did you notice, in the average church today, we don't talk much about the kingdom of God. Isn't that interesting. It was of great importance to Jesus but we often avoid the topic. I'm not sure why, but here is one possibility - judgment.
Did you wince?
You see, it's had to talk about the kingdom without accepting the reality of judgment. And to be honest, no one likes to talk about judgment. Especially not in our relativistic, post-modern society. Its a taboo topic. Judgment implies intolerance and intolerance is simply not tolerated in our society.
But think about this. If there is no judgment, there is no need for salvation. If there is no need for salvation, righteousness is a dead topic. If this is true, we can all keep doing what we want to do because we will eventually get to the same place. Now doesn't that sound familiar.
But Jesus tells a different story. He says there will be judgment and so all of this is of extreme importance. If nothing else, judgment gets our attention.
That's why we should look very closely at the words of Jesus. They are strong and sometimes offensive. But we don't have the liberty to pick and choose. We either accept what he says and follow Him in faith or we deny it all together. As C.S. Lewis says:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse.
Then Lewis adds:
You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Look at the parables again. Listen to the sermons online if you missed them (www.meloniepark.org). You decide.