Here at Agape Youth Ranch in Southeast Arizona, we grow rocks. I’m serious! I will go for a walk on the road that loops through the ranch and come across stones that weren’t there the day before. And I don’t mean little stones, these are rocks big as my hand. Okay the stones don’t grow in the middle of the road—erosion from wind and rain wash the dirt away leaving behind the big stones that had been hidden just below the surface. But it sure seems like the stones magically grow.
Regularly I toss or kick aside the larger stones, otherwise they could damage a car or tire. The other day I was moving aside some stones. I reached for an angular stone and discovered it was an agate. Now you need to know, I’m an amateur rock-hound (emphasis on amateur). I am constantly picking up interesting rocks, and many are added to my collection. I acquired the rock collecting bug from my dad, he had a couple of stashes of interesting rocks—I have his collection in with mine now.
Back to the agate. I confess I was thrilled to find an agate; it is only the second agate I have ever found. Peering into the crystal grotto, I let the sun’s rays fill the agate. It is a “young” geode agate so the crystals are small, but it is still really cool to look at. On the other hand, the outside of the agate is actually rather nondescript, I would go so far as to say it is blah.
Agates are semi-precious gemstones in a form of chalcedony, which is silicon dioxide. Geode agates develop when an empty pocket, or vesicle, inside a host rock fills in with fibrous quartz crystals. At some time the vesicle was filled with fluid rich in dissolved and suspended quartz (silica), as well as other mineral impurities. Gradually the silica began to form crystals and concentric bands of mineral rich deposit creating unique patterns. Agates are commonly found in riverbeds where a flow of water will erode a passage through the vesicle. Once inside the vesicle the water will dissolve the silica. Then during periods of time when the rock is out of the water, late fall for instance when the river is running low, the water will evaporate leaving behind the dissolved minerals and silica. Evidence of this type of agate formation can be found by examining the rock for tiny holes that allow water into and out of the vesicle. I was able to identify the telltale holes in my agate.
Reading the 19th Chapter of the gospel of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible, we come to a scene, beginning in the 28th verse, where Jesus “triumphantly” enters Jerusalem. You are probably familiar with the story. Jesus is riding a colt or donkey and people are paving the road with their coats and palm branches. Excitedly people shout and sing and dance. Now get this, while Jesus is riding along from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem through the din of celebration, the religious hierarchy, the Pharisees, come alongside him; they probably had to shout to be heard above the roar of the crowd. Here is the J.B. Phillips rendering of Luke 19:39-40:
I am certain that Jesus meant that the stones would in fact begin to audibly praise him. After all, Jesus is the God of Creation. If God can make man from the dust of the earth(see Genesis 1-2 at the beginning of the Bible), He certainly can make stones have temporary voices. Mind you, having stones begin to shout, “Hosanna!” would have terrified most folks.
Now you are possibly saying, “that’s impossible.” Given our limited understanding of science, it is difficult to imagine stones suddenly acquiring voices and cheering. But for just a moment, let’s let God be God. Allow God out of your preconceived “box” of understanding. I believe that God will usually work within the laws of science and order that he established. But this is Jesus we’re talking about. He healed people of all kinds of illnesses and disabilities. This is Jesus, who fed thousands with only a couple of loaves of bread, and on another occasion he fed thousands with a couple of loaves of bread and a couple of small fish. This is Jesus, who confounded the most highly educated men of his day. It is this same Jesus who calmed storms and walked on water.
So, can rocks praise God? Scientifically and artistically I believe that rocks praise God, they display the fingerprints of God the Creator of everything. So let’s take a look at the agate I found and look and listen. Let’s give the rock an opportunity to declare, “the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
Throughout the gospels, Jesus often says the Kingdom of God is like a seed. Seeds are mysterious. Plant the tiniest seed in soil, add water and time, and you will get a plant. So how is the Kingdom of God like a seed? It is a fact that a seed is a wonder of life. We may consider that from a single seed, a plant will grow and produce an abundant supply of more seeds. You may suggest how a single seed can grow a tree that will provide homes for birds, insects and countless other animals. All these ideas are what the Kingdom of God is. But for my purpose I would like to consider how the Kingdom of God is a hidden wonder waiting within our reach to be shared.
Crack open a seed and you don’t get much, unless you have a microscope, and even then it is not too amazing. It is in the planting of the seed that the amazing thing happens. An agate is like a seed, only opposite. Most agates are also not much to look at. Like the one I found, agates are rather blah on the outside. But crack an agate open and, wow!
The Kingdom of God is like a geode agate. What begins as a plain old rock, is gradually changed into a hidden treasure. The Kingdom of God is as close as a plain rock in your hand, but unless you crack it open, you will never know the treasure. You are like that plain old rock and when you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior, the Kingdom of God begins to form within you.
Opening the Kingdom of God happens when we obey Jesus’ final command to go and make disciples. You see, when you open your life to Jesus on one hand, and open your life to others on the other, you become that seed germinating into a great plant; you will reveal the amazing beauty forming in you. When you live your life, allowing others to walk with you in your life, letting them share your joys and your sorrows, your exciting days and your mundane days, you allow others to see into you where the hidden crystals of the life of Jesus’ kingdom are forming.
As disciples of Jesus we are to live our lives in such a way that others can see into our life. Think of the word intimacy. Say the word intimacy out loud this way: “In to me see”. This is how the Kingdom of God grows like a tiny seed or like a mysterious agate. We must allow ourselves to be like Jesus and invite others to be immersed in our life. It is living life on life. We must teach others with words and by letting them see how we live. Invite others to see into you where the mystery of God is being formed. And then send them out to do the same.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood the model of discipling that Jesus lived. Otto Dudzus, one of the men Bonhoeffer was discipling said this about him. “Whatever he had and whatever he was, he made that accessible to others.” (Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010)
Hmm, sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it?
Can it be said of you that whatever you have and whatever you are, is accessible to those you are discipling? (Of course I am assuming you are being discipled and are discipling others.)
If you think that being a Christian is about going to church, being a good person, and hoping you will win a place in heaven . . . you are only walking down the road stepping on rocks without realizing their hidden treasure. You are eating the ear of corn because you’re hungry. However, you’re probably neglecting the fact that corn are seeds, and if you hold back some of the corn and plant them, you will soon harvest a crop of corn that you can share with others who are hungry.
Being a Christian is about living in such a way that you invite others to see how the Kingdom of God is forming in you, so they will learn how to live like you do and go and do likewise.
You are like a geode agate, probably kinda blah on the outside. However, God is forming a mysterious beauty within you, you just need to be willing to allow others to see into you what God is doing within you. And the best way to show others the life you have in Jesus, is to be in relationship with Him and them.