Today I was reading a parable Jesus told. Now, it's a little different than most. Jesus was nice enough to tell His disciples what a lot of the parables meant. But this one He kept the meaning to Himself.
Matthew 13:31-32 ~ Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
So, since it was not explained by Jesus, I read a few commentaries about the meaning (I know, I'm a fun guy on a Saturday night, Lorie was working...). They all talked about how the seed represents the Christian movement. It started small, a few guys following Jesus in an area in the middle of nowhere, then over time it has grown and become huge, a world-wide faith with billions of followers.
But then the commentaries started to differ. Some believe the section about the birds nesting in the branches are signs of a good healthy church. The birds come in, they can find shelter, they can find food, they can grow and raise their young. Like we want the church to be today. Other commentaries show the birds in a different light. In other parables birds were a sign of satan (like the parable of the seeds, the birds eating the seed represents satan stealing people away). Those commentaries said Jesus was saying what would start as a small movement would become huge, but so big and tangled that satan would find his way in and nest there and cause the church to lose focus.
Two very different ideas. No one knows the right answer. So I came up with one. I figured I would just look at our church today, the one that started as a seed but is now full-grown, 2000 years old, and by looking at it now I can tell which way Jesus meant for the parable to go. And you know what I came up with?
I really don't know.
I mean, on one hand, tomorrow there are going to millions of churches with people in them worshipping God. Because the church has grown we are able to reach so many people and educate them in God's love, give them opportunities to serve. But at the same time, what have we done with our responsibilities? How much time do we spend going out rather than focusing in? How much money do we spend on our million dollar children's wings, all the while if every church in America (just the US) chipped in a little under $50,000 (the bigger churches would give more, the smaller ones less, it could work out) there would be no world hunger, world thirst, etc. As we've gotten bigger has our priorities gotten out of whack, how we spend our time and money followed what we should be doing?
It saddens me, being a part of the church and not knowing the answer to that. But I know I want to do my best to make sure we are the church Christ wants us to be...