These are some thoughts that have been developing in me ever since I studied Matthew 13 in preparation for our training on Saturday. Jesus keeps disrupting me with them. I hope he will bless you in the same way.
Jesus is an artful, courageous-but-loving disrupter of homeostasis.
The Lord’s goal is to help people, like us, who are prone to resisting change to keep changing in God’s direction. We’re working on being disrupted by Jesus so we can be disruptive with Jesus in a world stuck in its ways.
Jesus has lovingly stirred me this year. He is artfully refocusing us all. The newness feels good.
Jesus comes to us breathing the air of eternity and moving with the rhythms of the Kingdom of God. As a result, He inevitably disrupts our sin-soaked sense of reality just by showing up and being himself.
When we meet Him, this “Pearl” of truth and love often seems like a shocking discovery.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:14-6)
“Why did I not see that Pearl before?” we ask. We have reasons. Even though our spiritual lenses are foggy, the Ultimate Disruption to the fragile equilibrium we protect still comes to us like wind and moves us. We find Jesus to be of greater value than anything to which we are tied.
Sometimes we feel caught in a web, or writhing like a fish in a net, trying to move but surrounded by people who tie us up.
They judge us foolish, even irresponsible for selling out for the Pearl.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47-50)
We are surrounded by people who don’t “get it” about Jesus and feel threatened or bored by his demands. That’s not OK, but it is realisitc. When the church brings in its net, it is a mixed catch.
I don’t think we are “ashore” yet. The Lord ended His story looking into the future. So things are not all sorted yet. I am sailing through time with a lot of God’s beloved, unfinished creatures. I am mixed up with people who resist and wonder why I’m trying not to resist with them. Soon the net will be full and brought to shore. Until then I’m in a mixed bag, fin to fin with “fish of every kind.” The final judge of what gets thrown out is God, not me.
Our new normal in the kingdom of God always has a bit of instability to it. For one thing, none of us is personally complete. For another, we are in a net with some bad fish, and everyone in the net is trying to get loose. For another, we are all on the way somewhere and the journey is not over.
The promise Jesus offers to those with ears to hear is that everything is happening in “the kingdom of heaven” and the mysteries of our time will be sorted by God in the end. I take heart in that when I resist not knowing what is coming next.
We have the stability of knowing our end and of knowing the One who will bring everything to its end. Ultimately, we have a great equilibrium which the world cannot offer. Even so, we have a hard time hanging on to our treasure.
The world nets people every day and sorts them out into its baskets. It is especially judgmental about people who judge it for doing that. If they are sorting you out, don’t stay their basket; they don’t have the right to keep you anywhere. Even if their latest law promises to make everything right, don’t let their judgments delude you.
Jesus asked them, “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. (Matthew 13:51-53)
A healthy homeostasis is anything but staying the same.
Healthy homeostasis is being a stable organism which allows newness in while retaining the necessary oldness.
With us, there is a constant movement in and out. There is a permeable “in” and a flexible “out,” like our cells work. Jesus gives a profound version of this truth. He says His kind of “scribe,” who knows all the new laws of the kingdom of God He is revealing, brings out the old and the new. They discern the treasure. The old is new and the new is old.
What these scribes understand is we are constantly being formed, yet constantly at home in the kingdom. People who are locked up in their past, who cling to the church of their 20’s, or who build walls around their country or children don’t “get” Jesus, like people did not recognize his true self in his own home town. Did the following scene get played out in you life somewhere along the way, yet?
Finally, He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:54-58).
Jesus the great disrupter of the homeostasis went home to Nazareth. They did not see him as a pearl. They judged him as some kind of “fish” they could understand, caught like them in the “net” they called home. If his deeds of power did not come from where they understood, “They must not be real.” If he came from that family system, “What makes him think he is anything but from that family system?” Their resistance quenched the Spirit.
Jesus followers are always working on meeting the status quo as change agents and always interested in feeling deeply at home in eternity, moving yet rooted. We are brave enough to be ourselves in Jesus. But we are always going to be coming up against the kind of resistance which keeps people in bondage and quells miracles. It is difficult, isn’t it?
How do you see the incident in Nazareth? On the one hand, the writer definitely blames the people for their unbelief: “He did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.” He seems as frustrated as you might be about people who are poking you with the fin of their faithless ways. On the other hand, it is at least possible that Jesus did not do miracles in Nazareth because the questions the people were asking were the exact questions he needed to excite in them.
They didn’t need a miracle, he astonished them just by showing up as his true self.
“Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power?“ That’s a good question. “What is this newness? Why do I feel this strange feeling? Why am I so irritated?” They were going to get plenty of chances to see works of power, including a resurrection, but maybe, for now, their questions were leading them to seek for treasure and eventually see it right in their own home town.
The presence of Jesus disrupts us enough to dislodge us from our sin-soaked homeostasis. If we understand who he is and what he is talking about, then we can reconfigure around a new love and an eternal truth in the kingdom of God. It is amazing how our frustrations with the past and our questions about the future combine to lead us to the kingdom of God.