Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Those who are hungry...

"The Kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in the field," Jesus tells us. Truly it so often feels that way- so frustratingly hidden.

"The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed," he tells us, "for the Kingdom of God is among you now." So if Christ is the incarnate word of God, coming from Heaven to Earth to establish the Forever Kingdom, why is the whole thing so hard to find sometimes? Shouldn't such a thing as massive as the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God come with "signs to be observed"?

I am speaking as one who has been radically transformed by Christ and his Kingdom. One who has seen miracles, spoken with people who have met Jesus in dreams and visions and who bring very convincing testimonies to the table. And yet, like those who walked through the parted sea and went on to doubt and grumble at their God, I find myself wrestling with the hiddenness of it all.

One thing is certain, God has no trouble displaying his existence. Nothing could be simpler for the Almighty. If the foundation of the Kingdom was merely belief in, or more precisely acceptance of, the existence of God, then a few displays of splitting the skies could have done the trick a long time ago. Clearly, God wants to build his Kingdom on a different bedrock.

So what is it- this foundation of the Forever Kingdom? As I read the gospels, the answer cries out to me again and again. Hunger. In God's redemptive plan for humanity, he is trying to build a new kind of Kingdom, made up of a new kind of people. And for it to work, for the perfect union between God and man that God has dreamt of since Eden to come to pass, it means the people in that Kingdom must truly want to be there. It means they are hungry, perhaps desperate is the better word, for God and his presence in their lives. They are not just showing up half-heartedly, following routine or escaping punishment. This Kingdom must be their treasure.

And that is why he has hidden the Kingdom in the ordinary- so that only the hungry will find it. That is why he hid his knowledge in parables, so that the hungry would seek it out. That is why he asks us to persevere in prayer, because only the hungry will keep going.

After all, he tells us that "many are called, but few are chosen." Many are invited, but only a few respond. Only a few ask, seek and knock. Only a few "strive to enter the narrow door" that leads to life. Think of it this way, even when Jesus walked on the earth, probably only a small percentage of those living in Palestine ever actually met him. There he was, the King of Kings, walking around, doing miracles, declaring the reign of God on the earth, and yet most people just sat in their homes, or went on with their routine. They worked and played and laughed and cried, living their lives while Life itself walked among them, writing their small stories while the great Story was unfolding before their eyes, beckoning them to join in. Few were hungry enough to come to see him, even less to follow him. Why should we expect it to be different now?

So, to echo the quote Steve Jobs loved, "Stay hungry, stay foolish." The Kingdom of God is actually all around you, advancing and changing the world even when you can't see it. Keep seeking, knocking and asking- because only the hungry find the treasure.


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