On the difficulties of not getting it and the miracles this God of ours performs in our perplexitude. Preached @ St. Peter’s Comox July 31, 2017.
Do you ever just not get it?
I know sometimes when I don’t get it my natural inclination is to throw the whole thing out and put my energies into something else entirely. The commitment to just sit in the not-getting-it has very little immediate attraction. It comes with no glimmer or sparkle. It is a sacrifice of opportunity, of time, of space in the brain. All the same it is something our Lord uses.
We meet Jesus and the apostles more or less in the same place they were in the Gospel two weeks ago. Jesus had been teaching the people in parables about the kingdom of heaven by the lakeshore. Eventually Jesus and the apostles retired into the house and the apostles told it to him straight: Jesus, we just don’t get it. Can you explain this to us? And so Jesus slows down and explains what he meant in one of the parables by naming each of the images as referring to something else.
“Do you get it?” Jesus asked.
“Yes” they replied. And so Jesus keeps talking to them, as he was talking to the crowd, in more new parables. Now if you’ve ever taught children if you find one way of explaining something doesn’t work, and another way does, you stick with the way that works. Jesus doesn’t! If somebody isn’t getting it don’t you just change your strategy?
I’ve heard it said that the parables are more than explanatory words. They’re prophetic words. These are words that perform a function in the ears of those that hear.
Their not getting it gives the words time to work in them, to perform what Jesus has purposed for them.
What if these words work in us as the yeast in the dough, opening us up to make room for something greater? What if they lift us up unto heaven, raising up heaven in us? What if these words are like a seed sprouting in us, reaching deep in to the source of life making in us a sanctuary of new life and song? These words create the kingdom of which they speak, they work in hearts building the home of heaven and making heaven our home.
Once I heard a preacher has use the Victorian novelette “Flatland” to unpack something about Jesus’s ministry. Flatland is a story about a two-dimensional world in which a two-dimensional shape encounters a visitor from a three-dimensional world. This visitor was beyond comprehensible perception to him at first and when he came to behold and understand the world of the visitor explaining it to his fellow flatlanders was an impossible task. In a similar way Jesus’s ministry is the gift of new eyes and new ears made new in their perception of a new world that is breaking forth, the place where the presence of God is made real to those He loves.
What if these words are something we’ve stumbled upon by accident, but given eyes to see their worth we sacrifice everything we have to call them our own? What if the joy of discovering them and the world they open up to us overwhelms us in a way the world can not understand? What if they teach our hearts to see this kingdom as a treasure? What if these are the words that we have been searching out for a long time and are ready to give our all to walk into?
God uses everything, even our not getting it. He uses Solomon, that second son of a stolen bride who happens onto the throne of God’s people after a dramatic dynastic struggle. He asks Solomon “what do you want.” Solomon knows God’s love for his people, Solomon wants to uphold and fulfill that love and so he asks God for the wisdom necessary to have a discerning heart, a heart capable of that love. Truth can not be divorced from love nor love from truth but rather they hold one another up and are given after God’s own heart.
The ears to hear Jesus’s words, the eyes to see the kingdom, the hearts to love all come from one fountain.
What if these words are the net reaching down into us, what if they are lifting us up? What if they are sorting our hearts purging from each of us that which needs to be burned away? What if these words are washing us and making us new, bringing us into the kingdom?
What if we don’t need to get it? What if it is it that gets us?
What a wonderful love this is. The Spirit helps us in our weakness calling out for the aid we know not how to ask for. If God is for us, who can stand against us? He who accuses us is also he who chooses us to be with Him. He makes us through these words working in our hearts more than conquerors. These parables might give us the hope that neither life, nor death, nor things present nor things past, nor angels nor demons, nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything in all the creation may separate us from the Love that He has for us.
And so we are gathered here to be captured by that love, to be conquered by it, to have it planted in us and worked through us, to receive it with open hearts and open mouths, that it might be made manifest in us, and that we might be made whole in it. What new treasures might he draw forth in us yet?
For this is the beauty: that even if we don’t get it the promise is that the kingdom claims us as its heirs, not by what we understand or do, but by what it performs in us.