Think you get it?! Think again...

God does not see as mortals see, they look on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart. 

We all know not to judge a book by its cover – and yet we all do it.   

We cannot help but be influenced by what we see, by how things appear.  
So too, the people of Israel who had been impressed by Saul’s imposing appearance and height and chose him to be king.      
 
And, although he turned out so badly, when God sent Samuel to anoint the next king from among Jesse’s sons,   Samuel still begins by choosing the impressive looking one – Eliab – the eldest, the tallest and most powerful in appearance. 

But this time God is choosing and as son after son pass before Samuel none of them have what God is looking for. David does not have what anyone was looking for being young, inexperienced and of little status – in fact it looks so unlikely that he would be chosen as a leader that he is left at home – sheep sitting.

But God sees something in David that his Father, his brothers and even Samuel, do not see.   

Jesus challenges us to see differently by speaking in parables but, especially if we have heard the parables since childhood, we tend to overlook them: we think we know these parables:

We hear the parable of the seed growing in secret, the great bush that grows from the tiny mustard seed: 

We see a story about patience to wait for the seed to grow, about even the smallest thing being used for good – we’ve seen it before, heard it before.  
Let’s look again: the kingdom of heaven is like a man who –scattered seeds on the ground – only the greek the word used is not scatter or sow – it is throw or discard and what he discards is not seed, for which the usual word is sperma,  but spores- sporos.            

Can we see the difference? 

 – spores are not like seeds – for a start they are microscopic – they cannot be seen with the naked eye, perhaps more importantly they are not the kind of thing you would sow – they are the kind of thing you would clean out – a seed grows where it is sown, but the tiny spore can be carried by the wind and start germinating anywhere – moss grown from spores can grow on your roof, in the woodwork, even on the rubber of your car. 

So the first parable is beginning to look less familiar.  

How about the second parable? a tiny mustard seed is planted and it grows into the big bush – but again the mustard seed was not a seed that you would plant – it was a weed, invasive, pervasive, tenacious – something you would exterminate, pull up because it spreads everywhere, it takes over.                                  
When we look we see that the mustard seed has something in common with the spores – it too is something overlooked, something discarded, something undesirable.                                                                                                  
Like, I dunno, needy neighbours who take up our time, exhausted migrants turning up on our shores or gay priests having the audacity to ask to be allowed to do something outrageous, like you know, get married! 

If these parables can change the way we look for the kingdom of God among us can they change the way we see these situations, these people?

Can we see that the kingdom of God is not something we plan and plant – but something that grows anyway – without us knowing how it grows or even that it is growing at all –  something that runs amok – germinating between the brickwork, sprouting up in the middle of the lawn – something that it has nothing to do with our efforts at all.

Perhaps before we start opening our eyes, our minds, our hearts, our lives to see God’s vision of the world we need to stop and ponder whether we want the world to change, whether we want to be changed, whether we really want to live in the kingdom of God.

Because, the trouble with changing the way we see is that we ourselves are changed.  If we start to see as God sees we can no longer act as if migrants are not our problem, or look the other way when the rights of gay people are denied.  
So if we are happy with ourselves and the world as it is, if we feel in control of our own lives and proud of all that we have achieved by our own efforts we probably do not really want our eyes opened so wide. 

If, however, we have ever felt that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive, we will not be able to make things right, if we have ever felt that all our endeavours were for nothing and our efforts worthless, if we have ever felt that were bits of our lives that needed to be weeded out, then, to even catch a glimpse of God’s vision for the world is a sight for sore eyes –  to see that the kingdom of God will come by its own power in its own time – without all our strivings and efforts, despite all of our strivings and efforts. 
 
Then we can see our role, which is to see as God sees and, when the kingdom starts growing, to recognise it with joy, to receive it as a gift and to echo the words of St Paul: “from now on, we see no one from a human point of view .. for in Christ, see, everything has become new.”
 

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