Monday, November 3, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven

Heaven is the grand idea for many Christians. It's the place we all want to go one day, the paradise where we desire to spend eternity. We think of it in the grandest terms - pearly gates, streets of gold, mansions. Enough space up there for you and me and Jesus. These are the ideas we get from the book of Revelation, generally, and a few other texts in the Scriptures. But what are we to make, then, of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew? Specifically, Matthew 13:31-33:

Jesus used another illustration. He said, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone planted in a field. It's one of the smallest seeds. However, when it has grown, it is taller than the garden plants. It becomes a tree that is large enough for birds to nest in its branches.' He used another illustration. 'The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixed into a large amount of flour until the yeast worked its way through all the dough.' just three verses, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to the smallest of things. The tiniest of seeds, a small bit of yeast - images He uses again in Scripture in reference to their tininess. So which is it? Is the Kingdom of Heaven what John says - streets of gold, pearly gates, mansions? Or is what Jesus says - the tiniest of all things?

It is both.

It goes back to the idea of the seed itself, an image I used last week in God's divine imagination and miraculous inception. The Kingdom of Heaven is small enough that God can plant it inside your heart, but it carries the very DNA of Heaven that is required to grow it into the image given to John. Does that mean it's up to us to create the Kingdom of Heaven? Not at all. It's up to us simply to manifest it.

We are the field that Jesus talks about in this passage; we are the soil. We, and all of our mess and all of our stuff...are the fertilizer for the Kingdom of Heaven, which is held in all its glory and planted inside each one of us so that we may become living agents of growing it.

We do that by nurturing the little piece of Heaven God has given us, by loving one another. By leveling the streets so that they can be paved with gold, helping each other get one step closer to Heaven every day. Showing the way. Leading well. Following even better. By pouring the foundation for the mansions, telling people about the lots available and the incredible asking price - simple faith. The development has been paid in full. By giving each other the key to the pearly gates, not because it's our job to unlock them but because simply having the key makes people think Heaven is possible. We tell them that it is and lead them to the Man who can show them how to find it. No, they're not going to need that key; but that key is hope. It's reason to believe that I can go there because now, if I can get there, I can get in. It's giving people everything they need to know what Heaven is. It's growing the Kingdom among us so that, from the tiniest places in the most fallen men, Heaven becomes real to men themselves. 

We don't create the Kingdom of Heaven; that's been done for us. Look into the tiniest seed that God has planted in your heart, and you will see it in its full glory - like Horton when he hears a Who and dares to look closer at the flower. It's there. It's all there in full magnificence. And it's been planted in you, entrusted to you.

So tend your field. For this is the season that a seed falls into the ground and begins to do its thing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment