Relflection Sunday 19 July 2020
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
Nurturing Spiritual Intelligence
I am interested to know what you have learned over the last few months. What have you learned about yourself? What have your learned about the world we live in? What have you learned about God? How has this effected your life and the way you now live?
The disciples asked Jesus to explain another parable to them. By now we know that the parables are not to be interpreted literally. Biblical experts tell us that Matthew may be tailoring his Gospel for his readers and the contexts in which they are living. Matthew Gospel is said to be written for Christians from a Jewish background. Perhaps they were confused about the other Christians, those from Gentile backgrounds. Perhaps they were uncertain about who was and who was not a Christian. Perhaps they suspected the beliefs, practices and freedoms of these Gentile Christians. Were they really Christians? How could they tell? So, a parable about wheat and weeds and the eventual harvest is something to ponder upon. In Matthew 7:15,16a Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…”
Whether in parables or explanations or other teaching, Jesus is moving us beyond an understanding of things with our mind to an understanding of the heart. Christianity is foremost a religion of the heart. By that I don’t mean that it is just an emotional religion but rather the ways of the kingdom of God are not always understood with the mind instead they
are cherished and nurtured in the heart.
There is an awakening of the heart, an awakening to the Spirit. Paul in Romans 8:12-25 reminds his readers that life is to be lived in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. The Spirit sets us free from slavery and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. What does this all mean? How does one live in the Spirit rather than in the flesh? How does one live in the heart as well as in the mind? For those born of the Spirit how do we achieve spiritual transformation or how do we move from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity?
Today, we hear a lot about artificial intelligence and its use in the world. For example, thousands of people have been effected by what is known as Robodebt. Centrelink used a computer system to calculate how much individuals had been overpaid over a period of seven years. But with some missing information or incorrectly programmed into the system thousands of people were forced to pay back money leaving many in severe poverty and very distressed. The Commonwealth of Australia is now facing a class action claiming that unlawful debts were raised against hundreds of thousands of people. Machines are only as good as the intelligence they are programmed with by humans.
There are many types of intelligence in the world. For success in life and business we are told we need both intellectual intelligence and emotional intelligence. For Christians surely the most important kind of intelligence to seek is spiritual intelligence. We need to do all we can to nurture our spiritual intelligence for the sake of our own spiritual transformation and for the transformation of the world.
As the children of God, as seeds of the kingdom of God sown into this world, we need all the wisdom, all the spiritual intelligence we can find so that we may influence this world for good; that we may live lives of kindness and compassion,
of love and mercy and grace and justice and produce a rich harvest of life well
lived for all creation.
How have you been nurturing your spiritual intelligence? Spend some time slowly pondering a couple of verses in today's reading, allowing the Spirit to speak deeply to your heart.
For the wisdom that fashioned the universe
and can be read in the earth’s dark depths
and in heaven’s infinity of lights
thanks be to you, O God.
for the wisdom of teachers before me
and their words and imaginative seeing,
for the wisdom of those I have known
and their silence and humility of speech,
and for wisdom’s wellspring in my own soul
and in the soul of every human being
from which ancient truths and new realisations
thanks be to you.
Let wisdom unfold in my own heart and mind
and in the men and women of every nation.
Let us see the foundations for a new harmony
within us and between us,
the foundations for a recovered unity
with the earth and all its creatures,
for the ground of life is in you, O God,
the ground of all life is in you.
-from Sounds of the Eternal by John Philip Newell
Photo: Bandon River, Co. Cork, Republic of Ireland
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Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation