A 7-Letter Word

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, June 28, 2014 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever had extra of something? Whether it was just a little or way more than you can ever use – what did you do with it? How you decided to handle that “extra” could reveal if you value control, or freedom.

FREEDOM is a 7-letter word that means you are able to make choices without constraint or restriction, and carries with it the understanding that you are free from being slave to anything or anyone.

The amazing thing about freedom is we can use our freedom to choose slavery, or restriction, or control. In fact we often do use our freedom to try and control others. Instead of using freedom to promote freedom, we often use freedom to create slavery under our expectations and desires.

Jesus shares two parables that I think illustrate this for us personally, and for the Church as a whole. Check these out in Luke 12:13-21 and Matthew 13:1-23.

Do you notice a contrast between how “seed” or “grain” is handled? In Luke 12, God directly confronts the man who decided to build bigger storehouses for his extra grain. The core of the parable is in regard to selfishness – greedily storing up for one’s self, instead of seeing if there is a need God intended to meet through providing the “extra.” The man didn’t even acknowledge that God provided the extra grain, and just made plans to store it all for himself.

Now let me add a twist to this story for a moment. What do you suppose would happen if this man did decide he should share his grain? If it was already in the storehouses, who would be in charge of getting it out, deciding whom it went to, deciding how much went to whom, etc? All that extra grain would have to funnel through his hands, controlling how much, to whom, and to where the grain would go. Why controlling? Because he already views the grain as HIS grain – he feels it belongs to him, and it is housed on his property. No matter how noble his conscience grew, his hand would still be controlling the flow of “his” grain.

A heart that seeks to store up, and silo up, what God provides as extra is a heart that will definitely control where that extra goes. And isn’t that exactly what we have done with our faith? Haven’t we siloed up the blessings and gifts God has given us into sterile religious buildings? Sure we offer grace and love, and maybe even share bits of our God story with others in our daily lives, but there is always a hook to come back to the “storehouse” – the silo – for more. In essence we have inadvertently built bigger barns to store God and God’s love and transforming power. We have stashed away the music and the art, the prayer, the blessings, the fellowship, and the discipleship in our storehouses. We have even begun to believe that the “real” God stuff happens only in the church barns and church silos. Real followers of Jesus always stop by the church silo every 7 days or less to get their God fix… right?

Now before I go any further, let me affirm that community and community worship is a healthy and can be a vibrant part of our walk with God. It can and should happen. But the fullness of community (sharing life together), and worship (celebrating God’s worth) cannot and should not be contained within a religious building. In fact, that is what was so different about Christianity to begin with – God being alive and living in the hearts of His followers by His Holy Spirit. All other religions had gods who lived in temples or were worshipped at altars, and God through Jesus Christ transformed even that part of His relationship with His people – so that every believer would be the temple of God’s presence. The Bible specifically refers to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

There was never intended to be a church silo, or church barn/temple for God after Jesus. When God first interacted with Abraham and then later all of Israel, He used what they knew to help them grasp who He is and how to live with His presence among them. Then he redeemed even the broken cultic idea of gods being worshipped in temples, to create a people who were free to live and worship by the power of His Holy Spirit within them. So the CHURCH is the people, the followers of Jesus Christ, not the buildings. And sharing our faith, community, worship, and God stuff is meant to be everywhere that we are, not just in a 7-day cycle of religious gatherings.

Look at how Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God in Matthew 13. His picture of the seed is not something to be stored. Seed is meant to be sown. You cannot sow seed in a barn or silo… well I suppose you could, but it would be meaningless – barns/silos are meant for storing, not growing.

The Farmer sows his seed… where?... where?? EVERYWHERE!

The Kingdom of God is meant to be present and shared everywhere. Jesus doesn’t focus on the seed provided; He focuses on the soil. God provided the seed; God can always provide more seed. The Kingdom of God is never short on seed. Jesus points out that it is the condition of the soil (our hearts) that is important. The soil will either allow the seed to grow, or challenge/kill the seed. The soil doesn’t come to the farmer and ask for seed. The farmer doesn’t do a soil survey before sowing seed there, he doesn’t lecture the soil about letting seed grow, and he doesn’t throw the seed at the ground as hard as he can to force the soil to take it. The farmer sows the seed, the seed is meant to be sown, and wherever it can grow, it will. Do you see the contrast?

Take a moment and ask yourself the following:
- Do I believe what I have is mine, or is it from God and for His purposes?
- Am I living in the freedom Jesus describes as the Kingdom of God – or am I stuck in the silo?
- What would be a good first step for me to live, worship, and share my faith like the farmer Jesus described in Matthew 13?