Friday, June 17, 2011

HEARING, UNDERSTANDING & OBEYING

As we enter into right relationship with God, through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ and as we receive the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, we become members of the family and kingdom of God. Throughout the gospels, there is much emphasis on the kingdom of God. I will refer to the content of two passages in the gospel of Matthew to highlight the importance of hearing the word of the kingdom, understanding the word of the kingdom and obeying the word of the kingdom.

“…everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.” (Matthew 7:24, NASB)

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23, NASB)

In the two verses quoted above we see a good representation of the place for hearing truth (the word of the kingdom – Mt.13:19), understanding truth and obeying the truth one hears and understands. When it comes to being a fruitful member of the kingdom, the basic process is, on one level, very simple. Expose yourself to truth, prayerfully and diligently labor to understand the truth you have been exposed to and obey the truth you understand.

The truth in question is truth about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has reference to the structure and design God has for individuals and for the various corporate relationships individuals form. In other words, when we use the relational term “father”, it refers to a specific relational role accompanied by responsibilities that are to contribute to the well-being of specific individuals and society-at-large. The role and boundaries of a father is distinct from that of a husband. If we blur and confuse the two, we will create confusion, conflict and turmoil. We could proceed through a list of personal and corporate terms that reflect the point just made; mother, wife, son, daughter, family, church, civil government, friend, enemy, pastor, etc. There are roles, functions, principles, purposes for each of these in the kingdom of God as they contribute to the balance and well-being of the community. Of course, there are ways we can violate each of these designations as well. Truth, understanding and obedience play an important part in redeeming us from the ravages of such violation.

The training of the disciples, as recorded in Matthew 13, was training designed to help them understand the mysteries of the kingdom (Mt.13:11). The potentially confusing statement, “For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him”, found in Matthew 13:12 is, in its context, a statement about understanding, and specifically understanding about the kingdom of God. Those who have a certain level of understanding about the nature of the kingdom are in position to receive more truth and, therefore, will have more given to them. Those who do not understand will slip back into increased levels of darkness and confusion.

In closing, I offer an observation. It is easy to lose track of our goal and become involved in intellectual gymnastics and practical shenanigans that have nothing to do with advancing the kingdom of God. Often, we are more interested in promoting ourselves, our ministries, our churches or who knows what. Consider Paul’s instructions to Timothy as recorded in 1 Timothy 1:3-4. “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” Let’s make a sincere effort to insure that our lives are “furthering the administration of God.”

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