Life Lessons from County
Matthew 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
On our way into jail for our usual Sunday morning bible study, a friend and I were discussing acquaintances who had recently returned to destruction and incarceration. We have met many, who while in jail, confess to follow God, only to return to a life of corruption when released. It was all too easy to express frustration at those who follow God when in need, only to abandon him when life returns to normal.
It was also easy to see the parallels between my life and those whom I was criticizing. How many times have I pursued God desperately in my need, only to lose interest in my success? I imagine myself, in my times of comfort, to be free of need for God. I then return to my own nature and thus repeat a cycle of destruction. The truth is, like those men, I always need God. Faith is not just a get of out jail free card that I play when I need it.
As I was pondering that lesson, God hit me with another. I met a young man, who though incarcerated himself, had been sharing his faith with his cellmate whom he brought along to our bible study. This second man was one I had known from the outside and someone with whom I would honestly never have shared my faith. I am ashamed to say it, but I think I would have found it a waste of time and effort.
In jail though, this man could see his need and he came seeking God, repentance and transformation. You and I may be cynical about the sincerity of his repentance but for the first time in a long time, this man was making positive, productive choices.
I do not wish to belabor this point, but just to be completely clear, the very kind of person that I had been so critical of, just a few minutes earlier, turned out to be the very same person who shared his faith with someone with whom I had been unwilling. In jail, this man had been more obedient in following God than I had been in my freedom.
This, I think, is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He told the chief priests that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to those who follow him. Those who truly follow God, obey and produce his fruit are the ones in whom the kingdom of God dwells.
The lesson is, that if I am struggling with any defect of my flesh nature and if I am struggling with not knowing the kingdom of God in me, I need to do what it takes to grow his kingdom in me. I need to get out of myself and pursue God. I need to follow Christ’s commands to love God and neighbor above myself.
I have so many times pursued self and then wondered why I could not feel God in me. If I want God, I need to follow him. I cannot follow me and expect to find God.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful or interesting, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and share it on Facebook.