Jesus said, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘Though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'” – Luke 8:10
Years ago, newly-minted from seminary and serving my first church, I preached a fiery sermon on the counter-cultural ministry of Jesus. The church was nestled in an upscale New England village. I wanted people to know I wasn’t there to offer nice thoughts. I was called to make disciples because that’s what the gospel is all about, by God!
I concluded by saying: “If all I’ve done in a sermon is given you something to think about, I have failed!” After the service, someone came through the greeting line and said, “Thank you Matt. You really gave us something to think about today!” Point made. Fiery rhetoric extinguished.
I’ve since learned to be sneakier, lest people catch on too soon and bail out. Of course, Jesus is the true Ninja master on kingdom stealth tactics, but Eugene Peterson isn’t far behind.
In The Contemplative Pastor, Peterson writes, “If church members realized I believe the American way of life is doomed to destruction, and that another kingdom is right now being formed in secret to take its place, they wouldn’t be at all pleased. If they knew what I was really up to, they would fire me.” Peterson says the subversive ways of kingdom building: truth-telling, love-making, prayer and parable are “not well adapted to raising the standard of living in suburbia or massaging the ego . . . .”
Truth-telling, love-making, prayer and parable are subversive acts that undermine one world and reveal another by the grace of God. These things are urgently needed today (wink, wink, hint, hint) by the special unit of undercover agents and subversive revolutionaries known as the church.
Let’s be subversive right now and pray…
Covert and clandestine Christ, today, may I join with you and undermine “business as usual” with stealthy acts of kingdom love.
Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of breakout The Pride Wars fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for young readers ages 8-12. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.