A few weeks ago we began talking about Jesus speaking the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This was one of the few parables he actually interpreted for his followers, and in that interpretation he revealed it was a prophecy about the difficult future of Christianity. He spoke of false Christians and an entire age when the true and false would grow together – outwardly indistinguishable from one another - until the "harvest" time. We traced some of the corrupting influences through the long history of the church and began to see how the gospel was treated (and mistreated) along the way. Jesus, after speaking the Wheat and the Tares Parable, spoke two other parables. We believe they further described the corrupted condition of Christianity. So, what do these other parables tell us? Are we in danger of being deceived? Is the gospel even intact here and now in our present world?
So much of what Jesus taught was about the practical parts of living – learning to love, forgive and encourage one another - and these are the parts of his teachings that seem to garner the most attention. Jesus did, however, spend significant time imparting prophetic teaching as well. He came to earth as a man to ransom the human race, and in so doing, to call out "a people for his name." Much of his prophetic teaching was focused on how that calling would work and what that calling would face by way of challenges and pitfalls. Jesus was specific about what to expect regarding that calling regarding Christianity in terms of corruption and deceit. It sounds odd to think about Jesus calling out some future failures of what would come to be thought of as the Christian world, but he did. How did he do it? What did he say? What did he mean? What should we be paying attention to?
It has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth with the good tidings of the Gospel. When he finished his work, he left the infant religion of Christianity in the faithful hands of the twelve Apostles. These men “prospered and grew” Christianity. So 2,000 years later, in a world that is mostly non-Christian and largely secular, is the work of the Gospel still “prospering and growing?" Are we now achieving what our Lord Jesus set out for us to do? Stay with us as we look at the cold hard facts of Christianity in the world today.