Recently, a reader asked the following excellent question: How should Christians who have a public platform model the Kingdom Net in a secular world in which everyone is trying to get ahead? Will the Kingdom Net always compete with the secular, corporate net?
Jesus offers the answer in the whole set of parables recorded in Matthew 13—the place where he talks about the Kingdom as a fishing net. He recognizes that the Kingdom’s dragnet catches “fish of every kind” and “at the end of the world, the angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous”(13:47-49, NLT). He recognizes that both wheat and weeds grow in the Kingdom’s field, and recommends against “pull[ing] out the weeds?” lest we “uproot the wheat” (13:24-29).
What can explain these mixed results? Corruption in Kingdom circles and efforts comes from the fact that the Kingdom does not operate within a closed field or container. In other words, the Kingdom admits no separation of the sacred and the secular. God’s fishing expedition occurs in the world’s sea. As Jesus explains in three other parables of Matthew 13, the Kingdom like a mustard seed, tiny and seemingly insignificant until it grows large, but even in its success, birds make nests in its branches (13:31-32). It is like a small quantitiy of yeast that permeates every part of a large batch of dough (13:33). It is like a treasure hidden in a field (13:44), or a priceless pearl (13:45) mixed in with those of lesser value. Small in its beginning, it grows to great visibility, then competes for its integrity.
The Kingdom Net always competes in the secular realm, which has suffered violence from its present illegitimate regime. The Kingdom’s methods always seem foreign, even other-worldly, in the bizarro environment of evil’s sway. Yet strangely, it works! The benefits of the Kingdom Way in business stand well documented by such lights as Peter Drucker and many others, and the best long-term business guidance borrows heavily from Kingdom sources. Operating God’s way yields a better profit than sharp dealing, dishonesty, and ruthless exploitation of workers and customers.
Subjects of the Kingdom do not network to “get ahead” for selfish, unworthy purposes, but Jesus hardly exercised leadership from behind. Getting ahead in order to lead businesses, organizations, ministries, families, governments, and other social units to better performance, justice, or success presents no inherent incompatibility with Kingdom purposes. But this caveat for Kingdom networkers remains: field workers require regular bathing to remove pervasive dirt. The Kingdom will have good fish and bad, wheat and weeds, valuable pearls and damaged ones—and these are not fixed categories or closed sets. The Kingdom’s yeast competes with other pervasive agents. Birds will roost in our part of the tree. Keep your eyes on the King, and you will inevitably get ahead, especially when that means leaving corrupt business practices behind.