Images of the Kingdom of God
Dear Kaleid Women,
What is the kingdom of God? It’s an important question for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that, as Christians, we are members first and foremost of the community of the kingdom.
We don’t pretend to be able to succinctly answer the question. It’s complicated (or so we would infer from the volumes written on the question.) However, as curious women of faith, we want to enter into the question by taking seriously Jesus’ inaugural invitation, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has come near.” (Matthew 3:2)
There are many ways to interact with the phrase “kingdom of God.” We can look at it as an invitation to connect with the story of Israel--to listen with the ears of Jesus’ audience. We can look at it as an invitation to welcome God’s presence--to experience God’s reality “on earth as it is in heaven.” We can look at it as an invitation to recognize the magnitude of God’s reign--to be steadied by God’s relentless covenant faithfulness to His creation.
And we will. Over the next three weeks, we’ll examine the kingdom of God in these particular ways.
But before we get to that, let’s pause for a moment to recognize something else. We are daughters of Western thinking, sitting at the headwaters of the information age, and managing lists that lead us through linear progressions with our jobs, our kids, our marriages, our aging, our money, our everything. When we come to the Bible, we therefore come from a mental space--a culture--that has trained us to look for logic and to listen for facts and to act in efficiency. In short, we want a definition of the “kingdom of God” that we can understand and apply.
The women who listened to Jesus, live and in person, operated from an entirely different framework. People were not individuals so much as they were members of a community. Knowledge was rooted in respect for the past wisdom more than in anticipation of future discovery. Images carried more weight than lists. And so, when Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God, He invites us to His world--a world of community, wisdom, and imagery.
Recognizing that in our day analysis has replaced intuition, metaphor, narrative, and imagination, we are wise to stop. To ask the Holy Spirit to tune us to hear, see, taste, and feel the kingdom of God as we listen to Christ speaking…
He speaks of the kingdom of something that is…
...like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
...like a mustard seed.
...like a treasure hidden in a field.
...like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
...like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.
...like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son.
This week, we invite you to sit with these images of the kingdom that Jesus taught. Which one sparks your imagination? What does it say about the story of God? What does it say about His reign that is already here? What does it say about His coming reign? What does it say about your story and His love for you? What does it say to you about your today?
In Greek, the word repent means to “change one’s mind.” Where do Christ’s images about God’s faithful, present, kingdom reality invite you to change your mind, perhaps even your way of thinking, this week?
May we be women who receive the message of the kingdom with our hearts as well as with our heads.
The Kaleid Team