What is the Kingdom of God?
Countless teachings on this topic have been shared over many years. I myself grew up in a community where the truths about God’s Kingdom were expressed eloquently and in which we were urged to live them out. And I don’t discount those teachings, not at all.
And yet I have to wonder—have we been missing something? Something really simple and yet requires new eyes to see it? Newborn eyes, that is. The eyes of a child, through which an understanding comes that is not so much intellectual as merely known through experience and trust.
Sometimes the things that are “hidden” in plain sight are the hardest to find—the things that require us to “lose our minds,” or, in other words, to let go of all our preconceived assumptions and knowledge. Because the reality is, we see what we want to see. Even if something is staring us right in the face so that we can’t deny it, we still find reasons to deny it. Our brains are incredible, but often incredibly illusory. Imagination is an amazing gift, but when it sets itself up against the one who imagined the stars into existence, it turns against our hearts. Our goal, then, should be submit our imaginations to our hearts.
Now, of course we can’t always trust our own hearts, but we can trust the one who has given us a new heart. And that new heart he gave us—it will always tell us what it is we really seek, always remind us who we are, will always shed light on the truth. Because when we were reborn, we became one with God’s son.
So, back to the question: what is the Kingdom of God?
Jesus used many illustrations to help his followers understand what his Kingdom looks like. A pearl hidden in a field. Ten virgins going out to meet the bridegroom. A man who entrusted talents to his servants. A king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.
I believe there are clues woven throughout each of these metaphors, and they all have things in common. For instance: the priceless value of the Kingdom, so priceless that it is worth giving up everything else for. And another: the importance of being prepared for its coming. Another fact we know: the Kingdom of God has always existed. It was, is and is to come. It is here and not yet at the same time. It is full of paradoxes and upside-down claims.
But I think, somehow, that it is the paradoxes of truth which offer us the most hope. Sounds crazy, illogical, a contradiction in itself, yeah? Lay aside your mind for a moment, and go with me here.
What hope do we have if all that encompasses life is merely what we’ve thus far experienced or known? What hope is there to look to if all we have is what we see, what we do, what we feel right now, at this very moment, with the current understanding we possess? We rely so much on our intellect, on our uncovering of the facts, on our emotions. And yet we neglect our deepest desires because they challenge what makes sense. And yet these desires remain—a constant unfulfilled ache. Illogical, yet they remain.
The paradoxes—the opposite ways—of the Kingdom of God provide the hope that validates these unexplainable desires. They tell us that we don’t yet know everything there is to know. And this is beautiful. Because we are made to be explorers, and the Kingdom of God is like an endless ocean full of endless treasures. Treasures that don’t make sense but whose beauty cannot be refuted.
Once more, back to the original question.
What is the Kingdom of God? I believe that all along Jesus was trying to make his followers realize that he is the Kingdom. Not some distant, glorious land. Not a conglomeration of rules and principles. Not some ethereal mystery. Not even the church itself—the “body of Christ.” The Kingdom of God is Jesus. Yeshua. The person of God who came to relate with his creation. The creation he imagined and spoke into existence. The creation that when he breathes, comes to life. That when he touches, sees. That when he speaks, hears. That when he cries, feels.
God our Father has always been after our hearts, from the very beginning. His Kingdom is his heartbeat—the very manifestation of his love in the form of Jesus. The priceless treasure worth setting everything aside for. The one worthy of being prepared for and bearing fruit for. The one whom we walk with, daily, moment by moment, in precious communion.
Jesus’ residency on earth was God’s invitation to enter and become a part of his kingdom through intimate relationship. Only, not everyone saw the invitation for what it was. Some denied their hearts and remained lost, surrendering to vain imaginations. Let us, instead, surrender to this love, this pursuit that our minds could never comprehend, and watch how our imaginations expand to match that endless ocean.