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The kingdom of God is like…(Matthew 13)

  • Weeds mixed in with wheat, growing together until separated at the harvest;
  • A mustard seed that grows larger than the other plants;
  • A small portion of sour dough (leaven) that sours the rest of the dough;
  • Treasure found in a field, its is worth selling all one’s possessions to buy the field;
  • A pearl so valuable it is also worth selling all one has to buy it;
  • A large net that gathers all kinds of fish until they are sorted at the processing plant; or
  • Ten virgins awaiting a wedding, five who were foolish and five who were prudent (Matthew 25).

Theologian G.K. Chesterton, likens the movement of “orthodoxy” through history to the Church being

behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. The Church in its early days went fierce and fast with any warhorse; yet it is utterly unhistoric to say that she went merely mad along one idea, like vulgar fanaticism. She swerved left and right, so exactly to avoid enormous obstacles (Orthodoxy).

Israel’s King David (Psalm 29) describes God’s presence and voice–the King in His kingdom–as thundering over the waters, breaking cedar trees, striking like lightning, shaking the desert, twisting oaks, and striping forests bare.

Other writers have compared the kingdom to a ship at sea, not a cruise ship but a battle ship. We ought to come to church, says a writer whose name is now forgotten to me, not in our shorts and flip-flops with our umbrella drinks and chatting merrily, but in our battle gear: our helmets pulled down low over our eyes and our life preservers strapped on tightly with the “battle stations” klaxon blaring in our ears.

In my mind is this imagery: a bullet train. The train is moving fast, much too fast. Observers would say it is careening down the track. The normal, rhythmic clickty-clack of the wheels moving over the track now sounds like machine gun fire. With every imperfection in the track, around every turn the train feels like it will jump the track, hurling itself into space, turning itself into a twisted pile of scrap. The wide-eyed passengers are holding on for dear life, bodies covered in bruises, arms and legs straining to hold themselves secure against g-forces that work to pry them loose and toss them about like a favorite toy in the jaws of a playful puppy. Yet, the train, somehow, stays on the track.

All of this imagery captures my imagination, my heart pounds. The excitement. The danger of not being fully in control. Acts of great courage. The camaraderie in the adventure of being part of something bigger than any of us. The power of God on display in shock and awe…and yet.

Here I sit. My office is dimly lit. The quiet is broken only by the occasional voices of co-workers. Music plays softly in the office next door. Soon, I’ll be preparing another lesson for an upcoming class. Later, I’ll be sitting with someone, invited to enter into their story, listening to both them and the Holy Spirit. I’ve got to pay a few bills and set up a voice mailbox. Around me, people are still out work, some are homeless. A stranger smiles at another. A ten-year old girl is missing. A cancer patient gets a last wish. We over eat; much of the world starves. A soldier dies in Afghanistan. Two lovers are married. Iran and Israel trade threats. A prayer is answered. The civil war in Syria goes on. Infants are born, people will die; some will know Jesus, most will not have turned to Him. Today is like yesterday. Tomorrow is projected to be the same. The kingdom of God is also like this.

The ordinariness of my day is made more pronounced by the image of the bullet train careening through my mind.