Tag Archives: Jesus

Mixing Metaphors

Jean-François_Millet_-_The Sower“The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.”

I have become fixated on the concept of treating Christian evangelism as if it were a political campaign, featuring Jesus as the dominant and exalted candidate for the highest office in the land, and his gospel as the perfect campaign brochure. The idea has taken hold of me.

I am equally fascinated by Jesus’ many remarks, found in the gospels, concerning the topic of agriculture. There are many parallels between his treatment of farming and our understanding of politics. Most Christians would agree that when Jesus spoke of seedtime and harvest, sowing and reaping, weeding, watering, and pruning, he was referring to what he saw as his universal appeal to all the nations of the world.

So what is this “seed” that he often referred to? Jesus, the master gardener, said, “Once there was a man who went out to sow seed…”(Luke 8:5). When his friends questioned him about this story, his answer was, “The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11) I take that to mean the actual words that he himself spoke, as well as the record of his actions while he lived in Palestine, i.e. the gospel.

Seeds are plain and ordinary, right? You pick them up at the garden center in the spring and plant them in your garden. Or you re-seed the bare patches in your lawn. No big deal.

But some seeds are more valuable, and they come with a history. They are called heirloom or heritage seeds, and they have been developed over hundreds of years, perhaps by a single family who has guarded and propagated this particular variety because of its inherent value.

So for the purposes of this article, I want to compare the Christian Bible to a seed catalog:

  • The Old Testament as a record of the history and development of one particular seed.
  • The New Testament (Acts of the Apostles and Letters) as a “how-to” manual for planting and caring for this seed.
  • The Book of Revelation as an analogy to the full-grown plant.
  • The Four Gospels as the actual seeds that need to be planted.

One hundred percent of Christian literature, without exception, is about the seed, but it is not the seed. Apologetics, Christian history, Holy Encyclicals, the lives of the saints, instruction in ministry, books on how-to-live-the-Christian-life, conversion stories, exciting fiction, the coming apocalypse; these are all great and inspiring books, and thank God for them, but they are not the seed. (And nobody said they were.) This noble body of literature is entirely directed towards people who are intent on nourishing the seed that has already been planted in their lives.

Consider the factory worker in Flint, Michigan, who is trying hard to be a good Muslim. Or think about the computer programmer in Seattle who was told by her parents to avoid western philosophies like the plague. How about the successful businessman from South Philadelphia, who meets his family and friends regularly in the Hindu Temple? Christian literature finds no home within them. What bears repeating is that there are over 5 billion of these good people in the world, and they constitute seventy percent of the earth’s population. For them, Christianity is a non-subject. There is an impenetrable spiritual barrier in place that not many humans can cross.

Not many can cross this divide, that is, with the notable exception of the humble postal worker, who can easily step over the barrier and plant a gospel seed as easily as dropping an envelope through the mail slot in the front door or the mailbox at the curb.

The four gospels are the very seeds that Jesus came to deliver, and they were intended for planting. Sending any other Christian literature to our secular world is like sending pictures of corn to a farmer. He doesn’t need pictures. He needs corn seed.

I am of the belief that mailing out single, intact, copies of the gospel is a crucial step in the education and transformation of the world, one that could have a lasting impact on our civilization. I have created a small personal program to do just that. And I would argue that large-scale gospel mailing programs could be successfully carried out in almost every nation on earth where postal services are available. In my opinion nothing else will do. Gospel tracts won’t do. Great Christian literature won’t do. How-to books won’t do. I would like to be a sower of real seed, seed that will take root and grow.

There is a question looming in my mind: Is sending out copies of the gospel a waste of my time? I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I’ve decided to go ahead with my program despite my own doubts, based solely on some old scripture passages that I have admittedly interpreted to suit my own purposes:

  • “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

This passage is most reassuring and would seem to indicate that my program cannot fail. Lord, help my unbelief!

  • The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-9)

The Parable of the Sower is so important in the gospels that it is repeated six times (twice in Matthew, twice in Mark, and twice in Luke). In the story, Jesus throws his seed out indiscriminately and stands back to see what might happen. Some of the seed takes hold and produces prodigiously, while some of the seed does not fare so well. Interestingly, Jesus seems to expect 100% germination, while allowing that only about 25% of the seed will mature.

And paraphrasing some other encouraging words of Jesus:

  • “Don’t bother to weed.” (Matt. 13:24-30)
  • “Don’t fret over your crop. Just leave it alone.” (Mark 4:26-29)
  • “That tiny little seed you are planting will be the biggest crop in your field.” (Mark 4:30-32)

Finally, Jesus’ concept of farming includes the possibility for exponential growth. Jesus predicted that some of those seeds could produce as much as 30, or 60, or 100 fold return. Best to wait and see before getting carried away! But I am eager to observe the outcome of my small gospel-planting project. My hope is that at least some of those who read the actual gospel will modify their way of thinking about Jesus, and believe in the possibility of a world completely immersed in his divine and passionate love.

To mix my metaphors once again, I would like to see many people cast their vote in favor of Jesus, and cultivate his love in their hearts.

Return to Home

 

Political Baby Steps

babyanduniverse

“Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.”

 

I am a complete novice when it comes to politics and the process of running a political campaign. I have never been involved in politics at any level, with the exception of helping my friend become president of our senior class at college. Our main strategy at that time was to plaster campaign fliers on every tree and lamppost across campus. It actually worked surprisingly well.

Thinking I would test the concept of running a political campaign for Jesus, I printed up some business cards with His picture on the front, and my website on the back, and got myself into Times Square, New York City. My plan was to distribute the cards to random pedestrians, and assess their reactions. I discovered three things:

Not a single person would take a card from me, or even make eye contact.

When I placed the cards on public benches and tables, they were immediately removed and discarded by custodians working in the area.

If I placed a card on a table that was occupied, the reaction was often ridicule or outright hostility.

I somehow managed to place about 250 cards on public seating locations in Times Square before I lost my nerve and hurried home.

Over the next couple of months I got “hits” on my website from the following countries: United States, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Argentina, Portugal, Australia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Albania, and Sri Lanka.

I won’t even try to correlate the hits on my website with the distribution of business cards, but I must say I was encouraged by the apparent interest in Jesus shown by people across the globe.

So how do modern political campaigns get their literature out to the masses? One technique that is familiar to many of us is the use of mailing campaigns. Postcards and flyers arrive in the mail describing a candidate’s qualifications, (and the opponent’s shortcomings), in the hopes of educating the electorate. Sometimes these campaigns target specific people at specific addresses, but at other times they are simply addressed to “Local Postal Customer.”

Every Door Direct Mail, or EDDM, is a service of the U.S. Postal Service developed to make mass mailing both easy and inexpensive. No postage permit is required, and no mailing lists are needed. Using their mapping tool, I can hover over an area that I am interested in, select an entire postal route, (typically around 300 households) and arrange for my campaign literature to be delivered to the “local postal customer “at the low cost of $0.18 per mail piece.

Let me repeat that: I can deliver my campaign literature (in this case the Gospel of Mark) to an entire postal route of 300 households, for about $50.00 postage (plus the cost of the printed material). Since each household typically consists of at least 4 people, I will be effectively reaching 1200 people with my candidate’s message every time I conduct an EDDM mailing to an individual postal route.

Unless I’m mistaken, delivering an up-beat message through the mail to prospective voters is probably the most efficient and successful tactic that a politician can employ to win votes during an election. Likewise, a short and pithy biography of the candidate may be just the ticket to a successful campaign. I’m certainly hoping that is the case in this most crucial of all elections. I will keep you up to date on my progress.

Return to Home

 

 

The Power To Govern

Scan

“The Lord is King, the Most High over all the earth”

Our country has just been through a bruising presidential election(in 2016), and for better or for worse, the winner clearly walked away with the power to govern. The loser was given no such power, and really had no recourse but to return to the private sector. You all know what I am talking about.

So winning an election isn’t incidental. When it comes to governing, at least in a democracy, winning an election is everything.

In the history of the world, absolutely nothing ever got done in the absence of a clearly defined leader or head of state. Sometimes a leader would come into power by conquering and subduing a people, and sometimes a long established monarchy was able to hold on to power. But the best kind of rulers, in many cases, were the ones who had been intentionally chosen by the very people seeking to be governed.

As Christians we know that Jesus Christ is High King of Heaven. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega.

But on earth, sad to say, he only has 30% of the vote. And that is just not enough to rule on earth. We Christians want him to govern, and He wants to govern, but until he wins some sort of election, some sort of universal popular acclaim, He has to work behind the scenes in the private sector. (Of course, He could easily conquer and subdue the earth, but He doesn’t seem inclined that way.)

I believe that Jesus is fully aware of this reality. When He set up his special little kingdom among His tiny group of original followers, he basically told them to do two things:

  1. Live your lives as if I were your king.
  2. Spread my gospel (which includes my governing principals) over the entire earth.

To me, that sounds a lot like a political party campaigning for it’s favorite candidate. I don’t mean to be crass, but why should we continue to lose ground when we could be gaining ground just as easily?

I don’t know too much about running a political campaign, but I know that one of the first things, and probably the most important thing, is to get the word out. Print up the campaign literature and pass it out everywhere, particularly where the candidate is not well known. Take his case directly to the people. Let them decide by a simple vote whether or not they want him as their leader.

This question constitutes the main theme of this blog. How is Jesus going to get seven billion people to come to him and ask him to be their ruler?

It is my small uninformed humble opinion that the world’s Christians should begin focusing more energy into printing and shipping individual copies of single gospels (possibly through the mail) to virtually every country on earth, especially to those countries where Christianity has no vital presence. I am not talking about gospel tracts, or how-to books. I am talking about printing the entire gospel of Mark, for instance. Or Luke or John or Matthew, printed in the language of the country of destination. These small booklets are no more than 50 or 60 pages in length and are easily read and understood by normal intelligent people.

I know this is not a new idea, and it is certainly being carried out by lots of individuals and groups all over the place. I’ve made up my mind to join in the effort in my own small way.

Return to Home