Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven Is...

Why did Matthew write this scripture we heard read today and have Jesus tell so many different stories about what the kingdom of heaven is like, like a mustard seed, yeast mixed into 60 pounds of flour by a woman, a buried treasure in a field, a priceless, one-of-a-kind pearl, a fishing net full of everything.
I believe Jesus for sure knew what the kingdom of heaven was like because he’d been there or was there. He did say the kingdom of heaven was near. So why did he use these metaphors to describe the kingdom of heaven?
To begin with a mustard seed is small. It’s easily lost in the soil if you drop it. And that little bit of yeast the woman mixed into 60 pounds of flour can’t be separated from the flour after the woman has kneaded it into the batter. A treasure that’s buried in a field, possibly by someone a long time ago, can’t be seen because it’s buried. Priceless pearls aren’t seen every day. They’re very rare. And a net cast into a lake can’t be seen as it’s dragged through the water.
Similarities between these different examples might be how they accomplish the work they’re intended for without anyone noticing. The seed’s buried in the ground being changed into a plant that will emerge. The yeast is buried in the flour mixture and only after being allowed time to work will it transform the flour mixture into a fluffy loaf of bread. The treasure buried in the field does no one any good until it’s found and dug up. That priceless pearl may be buried in a pile of ordinary, everyday pearls and its value isn’t noticed until it’s brought into the light of day. And that net being dragged through the lake buried by the water is absolutely worthless until it’s trapped all it can hold.
Could it be that the kingdom of heaven is hidden, buried in our souls, in our lives, so well camouflaged we don’t even notice it?
And yet, when we do discover the kingdom of heaven we realize we’ve found a treasure. A treasure of so much value that we willingly give all we have just to have it.
Some folks are out searching for the kingdom of heaven because they know it’s what they desire above anything else in their lives. Again when they find it they willingly give all they have, all they are, to acquire it.
A couple weeks ago I mentioned that God’s love, peace, and grace are for everyone, all people and now we’ve heard how the kingdom of heaven is like a huge net that’s being drug through a lake until it’s overflowing with stuff and then brought in and the stuff of value is separated from the junk. Imagine the kingdom of heaven right here, right now available to everyone and when it’s full God reels it in and sets to work separating the valuable from the trash.
So, what do you think? Have you seen and or experienced the kingdom of heaven? Or has it been so well hidden, you’ve never even noticed it?
Maybe the kingdom of heaven is kind of like the blind men who encountered the elephant and began to each give their own description. Every one of them touched the elephant in a different place and therefore their testimonies weren’t the same. Yet they were all touching the same elephant.
Could it be the kingdom of heaven is different for each of us because we encounter the kingdom in different places, at different times, and, maybe even, in different ways?
That may be the answer to why Jesus used so many different metaphors to describe the kingdom of heaven.
Don’t you wonder if the kingdom of heaven is made of so many layers and dimensions that it would be and is impossible to define? It will probably remain a mystery, a phenomenon, for all of us until the curtain is lifted and Christ comes again in all his glory.
In the meantime maybe we should pay more attention to the things, and people, around us. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll catch a glimpse of this kingdom Jesus described.

Thanks be to God for granting us his grace. Amen.

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