As longtime readers of this blog know, sometimes I just feel the need to rant a little. Today is one of those days. I want to rant about Christians and the church, or more precisely… the commitment of Christians to the church. This is the gist of my rant. But this time, my rant will be in the form of parables. So here are three parables about the Kingdom of Me.
The Kingdom of Me is like a man who found a precious diamond in a field. It was the most beautiful, the most valuable diamond ever—for it was not of the Kingdom of Me… it had come down out of heaven itself. So the man said he would buy the field so he could have the diamond. He said he was willing to sell all he had just to get the field with the diamond in it. But on his way, he saw a baseball, and he picked it up. Then he saw a football… then a beach ball… then a golf club… and he picked them up. Then he picked up a saddle for a horse, then a pass to an amusement park, then movie tickets, then a car steering wheel, and the front door to a house. Then running shoes and dance shoes and a nice suit of clothes. Then he picked up a picnic basket for family outings, and a television, and then tools for work, and a book on how to make more money, and a seminar on how to get rich quick… He just kept finding things to pick up. Then he remembered the diamond in the field. So he went back to look for it. But when he got to the field his arms were so full of things that there was no way he could pick up the diamond. In fact, he was carrying so many things that he couldn’t even see the diamond any more. And he thought to himself, “Well, it probably wasn’t that nice a diamond anyway.” And he walked away, wondering why his heart felt empty even though his arms were full of so many things. Such is life in the Kingdom of Me.
The Kingdom of Me is like a pastor of what had the potential to be a wonderful growing church. This pastor saw that as the church grew there would be a need for more workers, more servants for the Kingdom of God. So he announced to the church, “Children of God, here is your opportunity… your chance to impact people’s lives for eternity. Come help us build the Kingdom of God.” But all he got was excuses. One man said, “I cannot serve. I have just bought a new mattress, and I must try it out. You see, many times when I wake up on Sunday mornings I am tired. I have had a busy week. I need my rest. And besides, Sunday is the only day that I can spend time with my family—which is a really good excuse for me to stay home and try out my mattress.” One woman said, “I cannot serve. Service means doing something for someone else. And that is not fun. I want to be entertained. I want to be fed. I come to church on Sundays so you can take care of me, not so I can help take care of others. Don’t ask me to give! Why should I give when I can sit on a pew (whenever I do decide to come) and just receive. Being in a church is not about others, it is all about me.” Another man said, “Sure I will work. I want to serve. Tell me what to do.” But then when it came time to serve, it was inconvenient. It required some sacrifice. It actually required commitment, a sense of duty and faithfulness… can you imagine anyone expecting that? So even though this man had signed up to work, he decided it was easier just to stay home. What did the pastor do? He hung a sign on the door saying, “Closed—due to lack of interest” and he went home very sad. But that is life in the Kingdom of Me.
The Kingdom of Me is like a painter who decided to paint a life-size picture of the entire world. So he drew a circle that was just six feet in diameter. This may seem small. But in the Kingdom of Me it works. For the world consists of you, your spouse and your kids. That’s it. And living in such a small world makes it easy to ignore many things. Like… you hear about an elderly woman in the congregation who has died. But don’t worry, you really didn’t know her. You can’t be expected to visit her family, go to the funeral home for the viewing, or attend the funeral. You didn’t know her—and even though she was part of the body of Christ, of which you are a part also, her passing didn’t affect you. She was outside of your six foot world. You hear about someone in the hospital. And there is a small prick in your conscience, maybe you should visit them. But you only know this person casually… just saying hi as you arrive late to church and have to step over this person to get to your seat. Besides you feel awkward in hospitals. It is not really something you are comfortable with. It is not like the security and comfort of your six foot world. You hear about a class at church on how to share your faith… but you don’t have to worry about going. You have better things to do than to learn about something that makes you uneasy anyway. Besides, you are saved. Your wife is saved. Your kids are saved. Why worry about somebody going to hell? They are outside your six foot world. You read in the bulletin that home groups are starting. But that doesn’t interest you. You have more important things to do than increasing your skills as a disciple of Christ. And Christian fellowship? Well, you get more than enough of this on Sunday mornings. And the thought that maybe you should go to be an encouragement to someone else—no way! They are outside your six foot world. Why bother? And the very thought that you might consider hosting or leading or helping with a group—HA! Get real. You are too busy with really important things—you know, the things of this life, the things that last for a few years and then are burned up in the coming judgment. Yeah, those things! Yep, life is much easier and less complicated when you live in a world that is only six feet in diameter. And that is the way it is in the Kingdom of Me.