Hope Despite Appearances, Part 3

Hope Despite Appearances, Part 3 June 13, 2024



Again, this vision is strikingly focused on changing our present world, not escaping it. It illustrates the difference between what is too often a gospel about Jesus and the gospel that Jesus himself actually taught. If Jesus’ gospel was only about obtaining heaven in an afterlife, the hope of one day escaping this world, but being resigned to this world the way it presently is, then Jesus’ gospel would truly have been good news for everyone. If it had only been about grace and faith and heaven, those benefiting from an unjust status quo would have felt no threat. 

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(Read this series from the beginning at Part 1 and Part 2.)

But what we perceive in these parables is that Jesus’ teachings were about more than grace, faith, and heaven. They were about shaping and transforming our present world into a safe, compassionate, just home for everyone. This gospel focused on changing our present world and this is why it was so threatening to those benefitting from the unjust shape of their society. 

Lastly, what I love about the parable in our reading this week is how the seed grows. How justice grows is often mysterious. Sometimes you can trace the cause and effect, but not always. How seeds became large plants was a mystery to those who lived before science could explain such things. (Although, those who garden today may still acknowledge some mystery, even with science.)

The lesson is that, just as we don’t have to understand how seeds work in order to plant the seeds, we don’t always have to understand how our world is going to be put right to take the first steps in reshaping it. Many times, the road to justice is made as we travel it. How justice is achieved from the modest beginnings of grassroots movements is often a path with twist and turns that surprise us and could not have been predicted. There is mystery in how our combined justice efforts combine with others’ justice efforts to create something that is often greater and more beautiful than the sum of all its parts. 

You don’t have to understand how our world is going to put right to be engaged in making our world world right. Just plant the seeds. Just take action and then watch how those actions grow.  Sometimes we allow our lack of understanding how something could possible even happen to rob us of the very hope that would inspire us to take the actions that would make that thing possible. But you don’t have to understand how, just do it! 

Hope doesn’t require being able to explain the how. Hope can often only exist in the soil of mystery. Yes, there may be mystery about how justice will grow if we invest our efforts, but despite appearances, we can still take action, we can still have hope. Despite appearances, even if our effort is as small as a mustard seed and surrounded by mystery, justice can prevail.


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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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