Recently someone send me an email with an attachment of photos of sunrises and sunsets. The email had the caption “beautiful.” I must admit that those pictures were more than beautiful they were breath taking. I was thinking of today’s gospel when Jesus says to us “the kingdom of God is like….” There are some things which are just impossible to describe with words and yet we want to find a way convey their beauty to others.
You may have heard me say this before but I have had the pleasure to be with 13 people at the moment of their death. Each of them in the moments before their death describes seeing something which can only be described as a glimpse of heaven. I tell their stories to people I visit that are terminal as a means of allowing them to embrace that final day instead of fearing it and what may happen to them. One such lady days before she died with a very big smile on her face as she talked to me said she had already seen it. My reaction to this was “what is it like.” Her response was it is too beautiful to describe and she could not wait to be there.
The kingdom of God is like…
Each of us has to admit we do want to know what the kingdom of God is like? If you pay attention to the movies or TV shows that have been made about life in heaven or the books written I would say we do want to know what it is like.
Today Jesus instead of describing life in the kingdom he tells us what the kingdom of God is like. But is Jesus talking about the kingdom to come or is he talking about the kingdom he established as he began his ministry on earth? The spiritual truth we need to understand is if we seek the kingdom of God on earth then we will never have any concerns about what the kingdom in heaven is like.
God has from the beginning of our creation offered us a choice. We call it free will and the decision we must make daily is do we follow him or follow our own desires. Adam and Eve chose to follow their own desire and we see the impact of that choice as we now live in a world where evil and good exist side by side. The parable of the farmer sowing his seed sown and the evil one coming that night to sow weeds is a parable reaffirming this is a simple fact of our life. We are daily making a choice to listen to the voice of God or listen to the voice which leads us away from God’s will for us. We do not have to fear the harvest if we stay true to our nature which is made in the image and likeness of God.
Today’s parables reminded me of another parable Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God. That parable tells the story of how the kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field. The lesson we learn from that parable is the kingdom of God on earth is something we must be seeking and once found we will be filled with joy. We will know the depth of God’s love and how nothing we have ever done can separate us from his love.
These parables are more than nice stories describing what the kingdom is like they are spiritual truths. The Kingdom of God Jesus established during his ministry on earth is where we discover the truth about ourselves and God’s mercy. We will begin to understand that this kingdom is a treasure where once we discovered it we will know that no cost is too great to posses it. This is why Jesus told us that if “we love mother or father more than him we are not worthy of him” (Mt.10:37). The kingdom of God on earth is a kingdom where doing the will of God becomes easier and easier because we are listening to him Spirit speaking to our hearts.
Jesus is clear about how we must seek this kingdom when he said “seek first the kingdom of God and all things will be added.” (Mt. 6:33). We must be seeking to be in this kingdom and we understand that all we seek will be attained.
Remember the story of the rich young man (Mt. 19:16-19) who wanted to know what he must do to inherit everlasting life. Jesus told him to follow the commandments. This he proudly admits he has done. Then we find out following the law is not enough. What else must I do he asked and Jesus said to sell everything and follow him.
The lesson of all these parables is not only the perils we face living in the kingdom but the rewards are far greater. But it is not ours because we are faithful it is ours by seeking and yielding to the will of God as the Spirit changes our hearts. We must understand that as we seek this kingdom then the evil one will begin to throw his seed in your life to choke out the seed Jesus planted.
This is an ancient battle of the seed of self will vs God’s will for us. We must decide if we are going to make it the yeast to produce food that feeds our hunger for God or for self satisfaction. Will be become like the mustard seed that begins small and grows to provide shelter, food and comfort to other seekers of God or will we allow that seed to fall on rocky ground and be choked out by the world.
We can easily get distracted by these parables whose meanings are given to us by Jesus as nice stories that only increase our curiosity about the kingdom of God. However, I want to remind you that God told us last week that his “Word does not come back to him void but achieves the purpose for which it was sent.”
These parables have meaning for us in that they challenge us to discover the God who gave them to us. What is it you are seeking? Are we seeking to be safely following God at a distance or are we seeking to live in the midst of the kingdom of God where we are called upon to let God lead us to a life well lived in the presence of the Glory of God.