The Revolving Door

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One of the ongoing concerns that people have about the church is its revolving door, or back door. People come, some stay, others disappear, some look good, others look bad—spiritually, that is. There are complaints about hypocrites, and devastation when a spiritual giant within the congregation turns out to have clay feet.

I remember a young man in my youth group—its leader as a matter of fact—who stood up one night in prayer meeting and confessed that he wasn’t a Christian. His profession, his baptism, his leadership was all fake, done to please his parents and others in the church. Looking back I might have picked up a clue on that when, as President of our Christian High School group, he refused to speak at an assembly and left me to do it. The non-Christian kids probably saw through him better than we did!

But Jesus warned His followers that in the Kingdom of God there will be real “fish” and plastic “fish” and we might not detect the difference. Sorting those out will be left until the judgment. Twice in Matthew 13, He tells a parable describing how that sorting will be. In both cases, that of the tares sown among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 and in the parable of the fish in the net in Matthew 13:47-50, the angels are charged with that task.

Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish” (13:47).

In the parable of the wheat and tares it was possible to see the difference, but the servants were told not to try to separate the good from the bad because they might mistake something for bad that really wasn’t. There are times when a true believer is simply struggling spiritually. They might look like a “tare” because of their struggle, but they really are “wheat” and we need to come alongside to help and encourage them to overcome in their struggle. Bearing fruit (Romans 7:4) is what believers where designed for.

In the parable of the fish it looks like the real and the plastic looked the same and only the final judgment would reveal where spiritual life had, or had not, existed. Someone once said that we will be surprised who we meet in heaven and, conversely, who isn’t there. Perhaps that is so, but in the end determining the answer to that question here on earth is not our business. To us lies the responsibility of becoming that disciple described in Matthew 13:52 who shares the Gospel and “brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” to contribute to the building of that kingdom which belongs to God.

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