On Monday after Resurrection Sunday, I found many reasons to celebrate. Chief among those reasons is that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus brought about access to the Kingdom of God for all who would be made right with God through faith in His Son (Romans 3:22).
As citizens of this new Kingdom, it can be hard to grasp that reality and difficult to face the daily challenges as we remain residents of the world (and its kingdoms). Knowing this, Jesus gave several powerful Kingdom parables to help us understand how to live while we await His glorious return. One of my favorites is the Parable of the Net found in Matthew 13:47-50.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, 48 and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw out the worthless ones. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50 (CSB)
The simple explanation of this parable is that all humanity (saved and lost) dwells together in the world until the end of the age when Christ returns and judgment ensues. The beautiful applications are plentiful, but I will call out only three:
- God’s next big happening is the “end of the age” so a Kingdom-minded person needs a long view. No amount of struggle or success will remove a Christian from the world before it is time. Settle in. Imagine how Jesus felt when He traded the glory of Heaven for the dirt of the earth. Yet, he “came and dwelt among us” nonetheless. Until the Lord returns or calls you home, stay faithful and just keep swimming.
- God will judge the righteous at the end of the age so a Kingdom-minded person needn’t worry about prejudging the other fishes. Until that great net is dropped, we are called to live as lights in the darkness. God is the judge. What a man sows, that he will reap. All the energy spent measuring, counting, mimicking, ridiculing, coveting and judging the other fish in the sea is energy God has given you to instead “be with and in Him” in His invisible Kingdom where you now enjoy citizenship. Every ounce of energy misspent robs you of peace and joy and robs the Kingdom of testimony.
- Torment remains for the unrighteous so a Kingdom-minded person can dwell among other fish with a heart to share how to become righteous. Opposite of all the sinful ways we spend our energy towards others, God simply calls us to live as “witnesses” to the great King Jesus and the powerful Kingdom of God, sharing the truth of the new citizenship available to all who would believe in Jesus, repent of sin and follow Him as King.
Ultimately, God calls us to enjoy the swim and to swim amongst others in such a way that they might be converted by the same “Fisher of men” who lovingly brought us into His Kingdom.