Looking at the inside -Trinity 2 2012

1 Samuel 15.34 – 16.13, 2 Corinthians 5.6-10 [11-13]14-17, Mark 4.26-34

     Audio here                  

Have you ever watched one of those “ behind the scenes” programmes,  often they’re about public buildings or attractions, and show a glimpse of what lies behind the public face , what things keep it running or the tricks of the trade that the average visitor would never know about –they’re fascinating, and often very enlightening. Any glimpse of the unseen very often is, it helps our understanding, makes us look at things in a new way

 In last week’s epistle reading  you may remember, Paul challenged us to look at what is unseen,  to look for the Kingdom in everything, and not to concentrate on the seen, the physical, whether buildings or bodies, that would not last.

All three readings today I think take up that theme and continue it.

IN our OT reading from Samuel, we hear the story of the prophet Samuel, being told by God to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel.

Now aside from this being a rather scary and treasonous thing to do, as Saul was still living, Samuel was in for a shock as he listened to God’s voice, again & again he was told to pass up the tall, strong goodlooking elder sons of Jesse, and instead led to the youngest one, David… the rest we know is history…

God called Samuel to look at the heart, at the inside of a person, as God himself did.

And then in our Epistle again Paul continues his theme.  He encouraged the Corinthian church to remember that it is the internal that matters, a persons relationship with God, their heart, he exhorts them to remember this so that they can answer those who rely and judge based on the outside, on appearances, behaviour, position.

I’ll come on to how the gospel reading fits with this in a minute..

Perhaps as we read these passages earlier you thought “ well of course”   -we know in our heads that it is what is inside each of us that counts,  but sometimes we al need a reality check,  do we *really* ?! do we act as if we thought that?

TOdays readings provide  some challenges for us, about how we look at two aspects of our life together as a church, which are inextricably entwined, but need so often shaking up.

The first is how we see people, those around us, our family  our colleagues, our brothers & sisters in church, visitors here, those we meet each day at work, in the town, all humanity.

Do we really look at the inside, as God does?

We don’t do we?!

As soon as we meet someone we have them categorised in to a thousand boxes,  based on the clothes they wear the way they speak, their education or lack of it, where they live, what they do…

We make assumptions about someones opinions, their politics, even their faith

Do they “ fit” are they like us? Do they have the right background.

 Not all these are bad! Don’t get me wrong, but we can leap to conclusions  that prevent is getting to know the real truth about someone.

How often do we take the time to understand the hearts of those around us? Even those we think we know well.  To pray for them and with them, to  pray that we may see them as God does. Do we welcome all equally regardless of age or gender, dress sense, or education, sexuality or morality.

This is a HUGE challenge, It’s so easy to parcel people up, to look at what is visible.

We need to seek God’s view of those we meet, to see his image in them,  and to stop only looking at them, and ourselves “ from a human point of view”

Perhaps this week we can pray to have that insight and chance to see  what God sees in just one or two individuals. How will that start to transform us and those around us?

Our second big area of challenge is highlighted in the Gospel reading.

Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God like the seed, that is scattered, and grows,  no one knows quite how…

It all sounds very random, and perhaps a bit alien to our world of strategy, and mission planning.  But Jesus says the kingdom is like the scattered seed, it grows and we do not know how.

 We cannot see what God is doing in the hearts of those around us. But we trust that he is working, and we see shoots, and the beginnings of life, and finally the chance for the harvest.

 But what matters in the first place is that the seed is sown, however randomly, however unplanned.

There’s nothing wrong with good planning

and strategy, and ideas , but do we sometimes over fuss about whether its “ right”, whether the target “ audience” is correct, whether we’re saying or doing it right?

Do we second guess, keep checking, worry when we see no fruit, get over anxious, and almost dig it all up & start again.

I’m reminded of the story of the child who planted some bulb or seeds,

Impatient as children are she watched for a few days diligently watering, and then started to get agitated.. “nothings happening”

Despite reassurances from her mother that all would be well and she need just wait, the next day she was to be found digging them all up again.

“what on earth are you doing?”

“mummy I’m sure I must have planted them all upside down and they were just going to grow into the earth”

 Of course the beginnings of life that were happening unseen, were rather stunted by the sudden exhumation.

What she needed to do was have patience, to love those seeds by watering & watching quietly!

Our participation in the mission of the church, in the growth of the kingdom is actually quite simple. We sow the seed,  and we leave it to God,  we don’t know how  the kingdom grows, but it does, and it will. The Holy Spirit is at work, let us see where, and join in.

Let us  look to the unseen, the growth, the hearts of the people,

 Let us not see our plans & ideas from a human point of view, but with God’s long range vision, and not to the outward appearance, but with God’s eyes to the heart.

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