Good Morning Brothers…
There is a guy, from Europe, who shoots a long bow faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. He not only shoots fast but is also accurate. Anybody who has ever shot a bow knows that the arrow goes on the left side of the bow, against the riser, just over the archer’s left hand (if you are right handed). Well this guy, after studying ancient pictures depicting war, noticed that many of the paintings depict the arrow on the right side of the bow. Seeing this, he had to decide if the original painter was an idiot and had no idea, or, the original painter was actually capturing the technique of the day. After further study, he decided that ancient archer’s held their arrows against the right side of the bow to increase the speed by which they could shoot. The archer’s would hold multiple arrows in their right hand and slap them against the riser (right side), draw, and fire in one motion. They didn’t have to flip the arrow over the bow to get on the left side and then change their hand position to draw and fire. When I watched this demonstration…I thought, “HUH!” Since I shoot arrows on the left side of the bow, my initial reaction was that this guy is wrong. But after examining the evidence for ‘right side’ shooting, I agree that ancient archer’s employed this technique to shoot quickly, on the move, from horseback, to send as many arrows toward their intended targets as possible. But…the proof for me was the accuracy. This guy shoots with both eyes, on the move, and is extremely accurate. The mark of a true archer is never in the mechanics, never in the selection of bow, but always in the accuracy. Are they on target, can they hit what their aiming at. That, my friends, is always the question.
This brings us to a question of method. Does the end justify the means? Well, I suppose it depends. Matthew 13:44 says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Okay…remember, the kingdom is like a treasure hidden.
Matthew 13:45-46 says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.“
The kingdom is like a seeking merchant.
Matthew 13:47-48 says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.“
So…the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden, a seeking merchant, and a cast dragnet. If we looked up synonyms, these three ideas would not be listed together, however, Jesus uses them to describe the same thing, the kingdom of heaven. So what gives…? Well, each idea paints a picture in our head. A ‘hidden treasure’ represents something to be found, a ‘seeking merchant’ represents someone shopping with an intent to buy, and a ‘cast dragnet’ represents a mechanism at work. In the first two parables, the man in the story sold everything to purchase the thing of great worth. What is interesting, is that the thing of great worth in the first story is the kingdom of heaven, however, in the second story the man himself is the kingdom and the thing of great worth is represented as a pearl. This tells me that the kingdom of heaven is a thing unto itself, independent of man. But it also can be the desire of a man seeking after God. In other words, the desire that builds inside of us to seek God…is the kingdom, but the thing we seek, is also the kingdom. Which brings us to the last parable, a mechanism at work gathering fish of all kinds. The kingdom of heaven is also a working kingdom. But notice how the idea shifts in scope and time. A dragnet being towed through the sea is not only gathering the good fish seeking to be gathered. The bad fish are not swimming around hoping the kingdom of heaven net scoops them up and displaces them from their natural environment. They are just swimming.
So what do we take from all this…?
The kingdom of heaven exists without us. God is not dependent on us believing in Him. However, His desire is for us to believe in Him, so He creates a desire within us to seek after Him. Some heed that call and try to find Him. Some resist that call. The last parable about the dragnet concludes with these verses from Matthew 13:49-50, “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.“
A dragnet is coming, as good fish, our desire should be to spread the news of a God who loves all mankind. Who desires for all fish to be good fish. The kingdom of heaven is a tangible thing. A thing in which to share, to seek after, to sell everything to obtain. We must be “On Target”. I don’t care if we shoot arrows from the left side or the right side. But…if we are left side shooters, we can’t call the right side shooters wrong. If the objective is to hit our target, to bring the kingdom of heaven to as many fish as possible, then the end truly does justify the means because our motives are pure. Don’t get caught up in different methods, different doctrinal understandings, different interpretations, get caught up in the desire to see all fish become good fish.