A little goes a long way

Adapted from a sermon given at Garden Park. The text is from Luke 13.

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18Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

20Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

These words of Jesus occur immediately after a rather telling conversation with the religious leaders of his day. Gathered in the synagogue, much like our church setting, a woman with some form of degenerative disease approaches Jesus. Unclean, unwanted, and undesirable, she should have never been there. She was an outcast from the society around her. The story tells us that she had been that way for eighteen years. This probably meant that she hadn’t been touched that entire time. Eighteen years without physical touch, mental support, the love of family, and the conversation of a close friend. She undoubtedly wandered around town begging and pleading for help, but receiving little support. The doctors that had seen her when she first became ill felt unable to help her. They had no explanation as to why she was in that condition. She was left completely on her own, with no support or love from anyone.

Until a chance encounter with Jesus.

That for her changed everything.

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What’s the one thing you’ve learned?

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at the church?

A friend asked me that recently as we sat across the table together enjoying lunch at a local restaurant.

While a myriad of things could have easily been shared, here’s a big one (with a detailed explanation):

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Greed and Life in the Kingdom

For many of us, the parables of Jesus are something like a nice blanket on a cool evening: it is something warm and comforting. We’ve read them, we’ve analyzed them, and we’ve placed ourselves in one of the more favorable outcomes. Take, for instance, the parable of the four soils. The worst soil, that along the path,  is one where the word of God doesn’t take root. Since you’re at church, this obviously can’t be you, right? So you’re not the worst kind of person out there. The second soil, the rocky ground, springs up quickly but lacks depth and quickly dies. But since you’ve been to church for like, four weeks in a row and several times over the last couple of years, you think you’ve proven your longevity in faith. The third soil Jesus tells us about, that with thorns, can last a long time before it dies and gets choked out. This may be you, but at worst your a worry-wart Christian…right? And since 90 percent of us have come to church faithfully for years and volunteered for numerous projects, this obviously means that we are the prototype Christian, aren’t we? We can go home, feeling accomplished because we can convince ourselves that just like Jesus used four soils, he could have used four people and we would have been the example of the upstanding Christian.

We could have also used the parable of the Good Samaritan. We aren’t the religious person that doesn’t do anything, or the priest that walks by, therefore the only category that we would rightly give ourselves is that of the Good Samaritan. We have somehow always become the hero of the story.

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