A certain man was walking through a salvage yard and discovered an expensive, one-of-a-kind car sitting in a field of broken, busted and forgotten cars.
The salvage yard manager approached the man, who was now inspecting the new car with intrigue and delight. ”What are you looking for?” quizzed the manager.
Still mesmerized by such a conspicuous diamond-in-the-rough, the man hardly even heard the question but responded, “I have been searching for this exact car for years! Imagine my shock and surprise when I stumbled upon it in the least likely of locations!”
“It’s a real beauty and it runs like no other,” the manager retorted with his hands in his pockets and his chest puffed out, “but we’re using her for parts.”
Incredulous, the man immediately broke his gaze and sneered at the manager in disbelief.
“You’re doing what?!”
The manager continued, “Look, son, we’re a salvage yard. Everything around here is wrecked and discarded. It’s junk. Just look around.
“Honestly, I was thinking that when people walk through this broken mess looking for parts, it might be a nice thing to help people out and give them a new shiny part that they could put on their damaged cars. Make them feel good about themselves, if you know what I mean. So if you need a part yourself … .”
Reeling in disbelief, the man interjected in a fit of rage, “But you don’t use a one-of-a-kind car — that’s hard to find, mind you — for only the parts! You just don’t do it! The parts, by themselves, are worthless on other cars! They won’t even fit any other car and they certainly won’t fix anyone’s problems!”
The manager stood there, hands still in his pockets, but now not so puffed up. In fact, he was quite deflated. He had invested so much time and money into this plan, for what he believed would be a nice gesture and benefit to others.
Almost under his breath, the manager whispered, “I could tell you all about the parts of this car, if you like.”
But the man, unrelenting, continued, now even more animated and exasperated, “This is one of the most ridiculous, cockamamie plans I have ever seen in my entire life. Who in the world will benefit from windshield wipers that are customized only for this car?
“Who will benefit from brakes that are uniquely made for only this car? Please tell me, who will benefit from this engine, this engine that was made specifically to fit only this car?”
The manager was utterly speechless. For all of his good intentions, he realized the folly, the foolishness, of his plan.
The value of the car is not in it’s individual parts, but rather, in how the individuals parts come together to comprise something incredibly unique that is extraordinarily beautiful and invaluable.
And it is for this diamond-in-the-rough that one would be willing to sell everything in order to attain, not the individual parts, but the extraordinarily beautiful and invaluable whole.
For the good news of the kingdom of God is like an expensive, one-of-a-kind car in the broken and busted salvage yard of the world. And while there are so many in the world who are seeking and searching, there are those, like the manager, who have reduced the beautiful and invaluable whole of the kingdom of God into individual parts that have no value when apart from the larger good news message of the kingdom of God.
Some managers give a sermon about the muffler this week or the windshield wiper another week. And, just about every week one can hear the engine of salvation message. But, week after week, maybe even year after year, those seeking and searching fail to hear how the individual parts fit together to comprise the beautiful and invaluable good news message of the kingdom of God.
Rather, the focus is on the muffler message of relationships, which is very important and needs to be taught, but it is an individual component of something so much larger, something so much deeper.
The focus is on the windshield wipers of worship, that is a fantastic individual component in which one can learn and participate. But, wait — there is a larger narrative that it fits within?
And most importantly, the focus is on the engine of salvation that so many obsess over in our churches, which is, “You are a sinner and need a Savior. Give your life to Jesus so your sins can be forgiven.”
And while the engine of salvation is an essential part, no one is talking about the beautiful, invaluable car in which this engine runs. The good news of the kingdom of God has been dismantled and used for parts.
Again, the engine is extraordinarily important and makes the entire car run quite well, but it is still only one part of the larger whole. And, if we only talk about, and fixate on, any one component, like the engine, we will never discover the beauty and value of the larger car.
For the beauty and value of the kingdom of God is not in individual parts, but rather, in how the individuals parts are embodied and expressed that make it extraordinarily beautiful and valuable.
The good news of the kingdom of God is not one of the many things. It is the thing.
The kingdom of God is the thing through which all things come together — all things in heaven and earth — and through which all things flow and manifest, first in Christ and then through each of us.
And it is for the good news of the kingdom of God that one would be willing to sell everything in order to attain, not the individual parts, but the beautiful and invaluable whole.
“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God in other towns, too, because that is why I was sent,” Jesus said. (Luke 4:43)