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Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's All in the Answer


"The kingdom of heaven is like..." Matthew 13


One of the privileges of parenting teenagers is the endless hours I spend in the car driving to and from sporting events. On a recent road trip back from Volleyball Provincials (similar to state finals) I had three fifteen year-old boys in the back seat who were not only defeated, but victims of a cruel hoax--no one had brought a video game or a selection of DVDs to distract them from the long journey.

Rather than complain, I was impressed when they turned to car games. First came the road sign game, quickly followed by a few rounds of animal twenty questions. When they'd exhausted that game they turned to riddles. My son stumped us with the following:

A man pushes his car up to a hotel and a short time later declares bankruptcy. What happened?

We were encouraged to ask "yes" or "no" questions.

Did his car run out of gas? "No." Was he married? "Irrelevant." Did he own the hotel? "Yes." Did it burn to the ground? "No." And on it went. We asked dozens of questions and still were no closer to the answer.

What happened?

We finally cried uncle and the simple answer was revealed. Figured it out yet?

The man was playing Monopoly.





Ohhh. We all groan.

And for the rest of the car ride sans movie to listen to or video game chatter, I pondered the riddle.

The answer is so simple when we have all the information. Something that is seemingly impossible to puzzle through makes perfect sense in light of the answer.

And isn't the kingdom of heaven like that? The problem makes no sense without the answer.

In our limited knowledge and understanding of God and his kingdom, we spend our lives asking all sorts of questions that have little or nothing to do with the problem, because fundamentally in our fallen and flawed state, we have so little comprehension of the real matter.

Jesus understood that about us. Matthew 13 gathers together Jesus' seven kingdom parables. His parables describe the kingdom in the language of the day and in metaphors his audience would understand. He opens each one saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." and goes on to describe an attribute of the kingdom of heaven to people who have absolutely no comprehension of who he is and why these stories matter. He is presenting riddles that have no answer--yet.

How does the kingdom of heaven make sense without Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection? How does the riddle of God and his relationship to humanity make sense without Jesus' life and death and ascension? It doesn't. Which is why people, even Christians, who strive towards understanding God and their world around them separate from the blood of Christ ask questions that have little or no bearing on the riddle itself.

Open your Bible to Matthew 13 and read the seven kingdom parables. Then read them again. And again.

In doing so, stop asking the questions, and meditate on the answer.


10 comments:

  1. Wonderful metaphor, Wenda. Sometimes I liken our lives to a tapestry. All we see is the backside full of knots and tangles, but if we could just edge around to the other side and see it from God's point of view, we'd realize that something beautiful is being woven from the colors of our lives.

    Without revelation from the Spirit it'd be nigh impossible to understand spiritual things. The concepts are just soo much bigger than we are.

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  2. Thank you, Wenda. That was lovely. For some reason it reminded me of when me children were babies. They would get all upset over the most ridiculous things that made no sense at all. Sometimes they'd be pitching a fit, and I knew they were hungry, and I would put them too my breast, but they'd be too busy screaming to realize. I think that must be how God sees us much of the time.

    Dina

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  3. Great words to chew on, Wenda. Thanks!

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  4. Very nice, Wenda. I'll be reading Matthew 13 today and thinking on these things.

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  5. Wenda,

    A thought provoking post...I'm going to read Matthew 13 today. Thanks for the inspiration.

    karenk
    kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)Com

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  6. I don't know if it comes from years of Hollywood movies, but sometimes I think I can hear Jesus saying these parables. Not out loud, mind you, but I can so easily picture him much as your photo graphic, Wenda.
    I'm pretty sure he has a calm but strong voice!
    Of course, he's not speaking in Arameic, either.:)

    Congratulations to your son's team for getting so far this season!

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  7. Ohhh,how I LOVEd this post for two main reasons

    Critical thinking puzzles ROCK! You MUST rush out and buy "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire."

    I also loved Jesus' storytelling yet am mystified by his talking to "those who have ears to hear."

    Tell me, did you son enjoy his day of fame in the inkpool????

    Patti

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  8. Hey Wenda,
    That was great! I love the parables and sometimes it takes me forever to understand them even with the help we have today. I think the mustard seed is my favorite.:)

    I can't imagine how much fun you had with the boys in the back seat, but it sounds like their imaginations kicked in.:) Imagine that!

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  9. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting.

    My son and friends are an ongoing source of amusement and even inspiration. Having kids helped me understand how God views us so much of the time. Like Dina, my babies and toddlers seemed to daily put my own attitude to God into perspective. I didn't realize the lessons only get more fascinating as the kids grow up.

    Lisa, I love your tapestry analogy. Isn't that so true. This side of heaven we only have glimpses of the whole picture.

    And Patti, my son lives to be famous! All attention is good attention as far as he's concerned!
    And I'm ordering the Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire from Amazon. My kids love riddles and have a teacher at school who provides much material for the dinner table, and the car as it turns out.

    Blessing to all this Sunday.

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  10. Wenda, so wonderful. Thank you for blessing me this evening, and giving me so much to think about. Sorry I'm on so late in the day, but I will read Mt 13 tonight before bed. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and all of the comments.

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