Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Kingdom of God

Last year our Garden Club discussed Jesus' parable likening the small mustard seed which grows to a huge tree to the Kingdom of God and we discussed the importance of doing small things with great love. Today, at our May Garden Club meeting we looked at the same two verses again and read the IPC Kingdom Story (see below for complete text). It reminded me of my own childish dreams. As a child, who didn't like the idea of war and loved to day dream about utopian worlds, kingdom, for me, became synonymous with a "Golden Age."  Interestingly though, for my daydreams about the Golden Age, I didn't draw from classical Greek, Hindu, or any other mythology. I didn't consciously draw it from my Bible either. But every time I prayed the Our Father and said "Your kingdom come" I would have a vision about God's Golden Age Kingdom on Planet Earth. It would start with everybody being genuinely kind to one another - people spoke only kind words and they did only kind deeds. A deep, deep desire, more than anything else, for a kindness-saturated people (me included). Kindness, not fear, rejection, greed or self-interest, would be the dominant emotional force.

From IPC Kingdom Stories:  Desiring the Kingdom

Most of us don’t think much about kingdoms. A few of us may have had a fixation with the festivities surrounding the “Royal Wedding” not long ago, but hardly an interest in the United Kingdom. When I think of the word “kingdom”, I quickly revert to my adolescent days watching Monty Python’s The Holy Grail and entering J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world. I also reminisce about the LEGO castle that I received one Christmas as a child and my continuous play in the kingdom of LEGO. Our thoughts and images of the word “kingdom” tend to be shaped by the Medieval or modern understanding of the term that deals with lands and realms. Surprisingly the New Testament references the word “kingdom” some 160 times. The majority of those references come from the Gospels and from Jesus’ own teaching and none of them have to do with realms or lands as we imagine kingdoms.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about the kingdom of God as a mustard seed. It begins seemingly insignificant, the smallest of seeds planted in the garden, but produces a towering tree that provides a home for the birds of the air. Jesus describes the kingdom of God using similes, metaphors, parables, and stories. In his enigmatic way, he never explicitly defines the kingdom. What he does make clear, though, is that the infusion of the kingdom of God is a mystery. It sometimes comes stealthily into being, but it always heralds God’s reign, sovereignty, and supremacy over his creation. For Jesus, the kingdom is God’s way of renewing and reviving the brokenness of his creation.

In June we are going to begin a series called Desiring the Kingdom. We will look at Jesus’ vision of the kingdom, the citizens of this kingdom, and the treasures of this kingdom. One of the primary motivations for this is to ask ourselves how the kingdom of God has invaded our lives, how has God’s reign and sovereignty begun to work its renewal in us, in our community, in our culture, and in our world and how will it continue in the future to infuse and expand itself in our businesses, homes, and friendships, and is it something that we desire above all else.

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