The reality is that this thing of the “kingdom of God” is nothing like the world in which we live. This kingdom is like a mustard seed; it starts out small, beneath the service but grows like a weed that takes over. People try to pull it up from its roots, because it doesn’t seem to belong and will adversely affect everything else we’ve tried to grow. It’s like yeast in that it only takes a little to be worked into an entire massive loaf; but it does have to be worked in. It needs to be kneaded, pressed, mixed, rolled and even thumped into the loaf of this world. The way to the kingdom is narrow. It is hard. It is counter cultural. It is something entirely other, but it also right here and right now.
Unfortunately through time and space this concept of “kingdom” has been used exactly as the world uses it. It has been used for political, geographical, social, and religious dominion. It has been used to wield power over people rather than to wield power under people. It has been used to squash people down rather than lift them up.
If you’ve been following the presidential nomination races, particularly the GOP race, you have seen this distortion of kingdom in action. Candidates want to win over the “Christian” vote and they do so by spouting off Scripture and citing “Christian” values. But the reality is that these politician (on the left an the right) say things like, “you will know them by their fruits (reciting Jesus’ words in the sermon on the mount) but actually have no intention of living out the sermon on the mount. They have no intention of loving our enemies, of forgiving debts, of not speaking ill will of another, of not retaliating, of not storing up treasures on earth but storing them in heaven, of serving only one master, and so on and so forth. They use Kingdom of God rhetoric to prop up personal ambitions in a Kingdom of this world. And these politicians are not the only ones- none of us is immune to this temptation.
As Christ followers, we must think very seriously about what words like this really mean. What does it mean that the kingdom for God starts like a mustard seed or yeast? What does it mean to choose the “narrow” door. What does it mean to live in a kingdom where the last will be first and the first will be last? I think (among other things) that it means that right here, right now we may not see any fruit or accolades in stepping into this kingdom. It will not necessarily get us a promotion, or notoriety, or Twitter followers, or a book deal. It is a kingdom where we seek not to make ourselves great, but use our very selves to make the world the great.
I look at it this way. This kingdom is like one giant symphony in which we are all players. When it comes to a symphony, there are those who use the song to show us how great of a musician they are. And then there are those who use their instrument to show how great the song is. The kingdom of God is the song. What kind of player will I be?