Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Kindom of God is Like a Bear In a Zoo

Once upon a time, there was a man who was given the task of running the zoo and caring for its animals. He was called The Zoo Keeper.

The Zoo Keeper walked the grounds of the zoo and observed the animals and their surroundings. He was not pleased with what he saw. He saw caged up animals that were not in their natural environments. He heard their cries and gnashing of teeth, and sometimes he heard nothing at all as they lay sleeping their lives away.

One particular animal took his interest. It was a bear that slept in one corner of his cage, and when he was hungry, he would get up slowly, walk over to the opposite corner to eat the food that was given to him. He would then walk back to his corner and lay down to go back to sleep. He was unhappy and unhealthy.

So The Zoo Keeper decided to change things. He told his servants of a huge project which would involve acquiring new land, expanding the environment and building natural landscapes for the animals that would be similar to what they would enjoy in the wild. The elephants would live in an environment similar to what is found in Africa, and the monkeys would swing from real trees, and the polar bears would enjoy large cold water tanks and rocks. The servants rejoiced in hearing the Good News, and began the work. When they accomplished the renovations, the Zoo Keeper said, “It is good.”

They then took the cage with the bear in it and set it into his new environment along with the other bears. They opened his cage door and waited. The bear sniffed the air, looked around, then walked over to his food, ate it, and then went back to his corner and laid down to sleep.

So the Zoo Keeper said, “Take down the walls of the cage and carry them away from here. The bear does not realize that the door is opened to him, that he is free and has a new environment in which to live.” So they took down the walls of his old cage, carried them away leaving the bear sleeping. When the bear awoke, he looked around and noticed something different. But his hunger took over, he got up as usual and walked over to where his food is accustomed to be, ate his food and then went back to where is bed was, and laid down to sleep. Even though there were no walls to confine him, he did not move beyond the confines of his belief of where his walls once stood.

So the keeper said, “Take his food away from him. Give him better food, food that has strong smell that will attract a bear, and put it several feet away from his normal area, and let us wait.” So they took the food away and set out a feast that only a bear could truly appreciate, and they put it several feet away from his usual place, away from his usual confines. Eventually the bear woke up, walked over to where his food once sat, and did not find it. He sniffed the air, and smelled the strong food and flavors that would attract a bear, yet not seeing it, he turned back to his bed and laid there and slept, but this time, hungry.

Those with ears let them hear.

Notice that though the bear is in his new kingdom, a member of that kingdom, yet he denied his freedom and allowed the walls of his mind and beliefs to hold him to his old environment. He did not see nor cared that the other bears are free. All he knew was his old environment. Was the bear destroyed or punished for his lack of understanding? No, but he suffered needlessly because of his disbelief, continuing his crying and gnashing of teeth. But daily, the servants of the zoo came to patiently lead him away from his old confines until he eventually was able to enjoy his new environment.

It is written that those who live by the law will die by the law. The old law, like the cage, has been taken away. But if the bear believed that he is still confined to that area, he will live and eventually die within the area of his existence. But the Zoo Keeper was compassionate and loved the bear. Instead of letting the bear sleep his life away, he sent in his servants who encouraged the bear and showed what his freedom would bring to his life. He eventually found a new place to sleep and eat, but more importantly, he found enjoyment in his new environment along with bears of his kind.

Then the Zoo Keeper said, “It is very good”.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to get rid of your enemies and make more friends

I thought Allen Parker wrote a nice blog about loving our enemies.

Often, we get caught up in our zeal for the kingdom of God by condemning the world to hell. It's as if good news (gospel) cannot be told without speaking of hell. As if God cannot exist without the devil. Good news is just that, good news, fresh water to a thirsty soul. There is no such thing as too much grace. Jesus did not tell us to preach about hell, he told us to preach about the Kingdom of God, and by contrast, hell no longer looks so appealing.

I just read the book, "What Is So Amazing About Grace" by Phillip Yancey. There is so much grace that is needed in this world. So many people trying to live out their lives by working for the kingdom instead of living the kingdom of God right now in their lives. We do not need to be always searching for the kingdom "sometime in the future". We need to let the holy spirit live in us and bring us the kingdom of God in our lives and out to the lives around us, including our enemies.

We have no problem saying that our enemies live in the same country, state, city, town or block as we do. But we think they are not a part of God's kingdom. Just because they are our enemy does not mean they are not reconciled by God through Jesus Christ. They just don't know it yet.

How many people do we send to hell every day in our thoughts not realizing that they have been praying to the same God every day in tears about their personal problem we feel is hell worthy? Many people come "out of the closet" about their problem, and instead of showing them grace, we condemn them! They come out crying for help, we push them back in saying they are not worthy. We make enemies out of them instead of brothers. And that includes those that hate us simply because we are Christians!

As Allen Parker suggested, lets pray for our enemies. Even Abraham Lincoln had it right when we suggested we get rid of our enemies by making friends out of them.

Boyd "Live Nude and Prosper" Allen