The Thessalonian Christians are praised for how they received the word of God because they received it not as a word from men but rather as the word of God. Paul noticed how the word of God worked effectively and powerfully in the lives of those who believed, this is highlighted in the reason why Jesus spoke at times in parables.
Reading sermons engages the mind in a different way than listening to them. Those who have minds which wander during sermons and then re-engage seventeen minutes later can be tempted to blame the message or the messenger or both. However, when a person reads God’s word and their mind checks out and then re-engages seventeen minutes later, who do they blame then?. When Jesus said let him who has ears to hear, hear. He places all the focus on our ability to listen and when we don’t it is because our mind and heart are elsewhere. The purpose of parables is to reveal the secrets of the kingdom to those who have ears to hear and as we read these parables we notice how we are encouraged to understand them.
The wrong way around
When reading scripture it is possible and has been observed for some to read it the wrong way around. what I mean by this can be illustrated by how many have understood the account of Zacceheus who climbed a tree to see Jesus and the lesson taken from it is how Zaccheus was seeking Jesus. However, when you read the account (Luke 19) it concludes with us learning that Jesus is the true seeker, that He is the one who came to seek and to save the lost. The focus is on Jesus, not Zaccheus.
When we come to the parables the same lesson occurs. take for instance the series of parables in Matthew 13. They begin with a parable about a sower, the sower sows seed on to the ground in order for growth. Jesus is teaching the word of God and those who hear are like the different types of soil. When Jesus told the parable about the wheat and weeds, He likens the kingdom of God to a man who sowed good seed in his field (God) only for the enemy to come along and sow bad seed (the evil one). When Jesus tells the parable about the fisherman, who casts a net brings in His catch and then sorts them out, we have no difficulty in recognising that the sower and the fishermen in these parables which the kingdom of God can be likened to is God.
When we read the parable about the merchant and the pearl of great price, the temptation is to read this from only one side, which is, that we the reader are the merchant and the pearl is the kingdom, which may not be wrong but why have we read all the other parables the other way around where God is the sower or the fisherman. What would happen if we read this parable about the pearl of great price as intended.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search for fine pearls” (Matt 13:45) the kingdom is likened to the Merchant seeking for fine pearls (similar I would argue to Jesus who came to seek and to save the lost) “who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it (hyperbole) (Matt 13:46). It seems that if we keep this parable in the same context as the others when reading, we will conclude that this is describing the king’s search, the Master’s search, Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost.
Learning the lesson
Reading the word of God requires us to work and to realise that we can be easily tempted to believe that we know what one text means because we read it once. Christians who read through their distractions and wandering mind, think, and therefore understand that this is the way that God transforms their life, that they may worship God properly is through the renewal of the mind.