My family and I recently watched the newest “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, or new “Toothless” movie as my kids call it. There is a central idea in the movie, that a secret dragon land can be found where the earth ends. I am always fascinated by how movies depict the “ends of the earth”. In the cartoon movie“Sinbad”, yup, eons ago w/ Brad Pitt pre-Angelina, the movie showed an actual drop-off from the ocean wherein the boat that they were sailing on the water essentially began to float in the emptiness. But in this movie, I found it interesting, that they chose to demonstrate the end as a waterfall-pit. Basically, it was like a huge toilet bowl flush, and upon entering in, you were then float flying to the secret land of the dragons. Where am I going with this? Well, Matt. 28:19 tells us to go and make disciples of all the nations… and Acts follows up on the same concept –
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Do I think that this means we are to go on a quest to “the ends of the earth”? No. But I do think that this might just mean something larger than, as the song says, “Go Tell it on a Mountain”. This is not a one and done scenario. We are instructed to repeatedly, consistently, and demonstratively echo the message of Jesus to All. Those. Around Us. Pressure? Yes. Helper? Also, yes. We have the Holy Spirit (see verse above) and note that we are not commanded to do anything we are not fully equipped by God to do. He does not set us up for failure. The only failing is if we choose not to do it.
Luke chapter 8 tells about the Parable of the Sower. It begins like this:
“Afterwards he was traveling from one town and village to another, preaching and telling the good news of the kingdom of God.” The “he” here is Jesus. So… lets pause for a second and think about what that would look like today. If Jesus was walking on this earth, here and now, in all the emotional, socio-economical, and political chaos, what would that look like for him to travel from one town and village to another telling the good news? My thought is, he wouldn’t plan his visits around certain “bad parts” of town, nor would he spare talking to those he considered to have “strong” political perspectives. There would be no concern for him in sharing the good news with those struggling, hurting, confused, or disillusioned, and he wouldn’t limit his conversations to the optimal convenient time. Well? Neither should we.
The Parable of the Sower and it’s following explanation (Luke 8:4-8 and 8:11-15) isn’t to give cause for whom we should share the hope of our faith with, instead, it is to express that once the seed (aka word of God) is sown, the cultivation of that seed varies. Not that it admonishes any further action on our part – “Well I already told them once so that’s that”, but to encourage the sowing of seed despite the appearance of cultivation. It is our job as followers of Christ to actually follow his lead and speak hope and life and the promise of God’s Kingdom unto the ends of the earth. Our obedience cannot depend on whether we (in all our flawed judgement) think the receiver is “good ground”. We must choose to be the good ground ourselves, and thus in producing fruit, we in turn sow more seed. So, remain in Christ (Jn 15:1-8). Bear fruit (He is the vine; we are the branches). Leave the gardening to the ultimate Gardener.
This morning, my daughter was using her coloring pencils to make an artistic creation. After completing her work, she gave me an explanation of her drawing as she typically does. This time though, instead of the conversation simply being about what she drew, she also told of how at a certain point she felt lost in her direction. Sounds deep for a 5 yr old, but I was reading between the lines. I think what she said was something like, “And all of the sudden I was like, ‘what am I doing?’, so I stood back, looked at my paper and decided to turn it around and then it was like, ‘Ohhh, so that’s a rock, and this could be like a turtle or a hedgehog’… and then I saw that I could create a beautiful field of flowers right here!” Now imagine this being said with an eccentric head bob and tonal inflection, and it was really quite comical. But also, sooooo telling. How often in our own lives do we look around and feel the same loss of direction? What amI doing?
Brian often reminds us that repentance requires a Uturn. We must change and go in the opposite direction, away from our fleshly desires and toward the Kingdom of God. (see well, the bible.)
Matthew 4:17 tells us of when Jesus began preaching, and his message was this: “Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He then goes on to preach his Sermon on the Mount and give a very specific account of what all this looks like. Side note, I recently participated in a bible study by Jen Wilkin titled “Sermon on the Mount”, where the focus is the sermon as a whole and gave great depth and insight to some areas I didn’t even know I was struggling to understand. I super recommend it!
Back to the point, and with a fresh metaphor, imaging driving. Where are you headed? Destination is key – duh. But, have you ever thought you were going toward something and found out you were going entirely in the wrong direction? Many moons ago, my husband-to-be and his sister headed out on a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with their mom in Florida. Their plan was to drive through the night (youth, lol) and get there bright and early to make the family meal. I was at my friend’s family’s house when I got the call. It was a large group, so I had to step out and make him repeat everything. Nope, they weren’t in Florida, they were in South Carolina. Apparently, someone, ehem, had taken a wrong turn while Jason was getting a little shut-eye. When he woke up, they were practically back where they started. Seriously.
SO my question is this: at what point, or better yet, how often do we need to take stock of our surroundings and adjust our course? The truth of the matter is, you can tell that you are heading to the beach when you are on the way. 74 and 211 have looked the same for decades and are recognizable in their monotony. But seriously, you can look around and know where you are heading. Same is true in life. Look at your surroundings… places, people, description of the area…. Are you heading toward the Kingdom of God? Not talking about salvation here, just goal and getting to where God has promised. Jesus’ ministry did not begin with, “now go out and be nice to others..”, it literally started with “Repent”. And I do not think this can be boxed up as a one-time decision. Just as when you head to the beach you don’t simply decide where you are heading and sit back inactively (maybe in the Cars of the Future, lol), you are constantly making turns, changing lanes, and readjusting for detours and traffic. We must be doing the same on our “Christian walk”, lest we end up expecting to get to Florida, but waking up to find you having to call your mom to say you won’t make it for the meal. We can’t miss the meal… Jesus said he was setting a place for us. For you, for me… he promised he was going ahead of us with the expectation we will follow. That’s a promise worth making a Uturn for.
what is "spark"?
Its a small thing - like the flash on a spark plug that hopefully ignites something bigger to propel you forward.