Jesus said some interesting things about the Kingdom of God. Two parables however, which are much the same, stand out to me.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
So what is the Kingdom? There has been much thought about this, but I tend to conclude that it is the reign of God through Christ in which hope and a future are now guaranteed. It is a people oriented to the ways of Christ. Now granted, this is a pretty simple definition, but it will do for what I think Jesus is trying to tell us.
This Kingdom, says Jesus, is most valuable. In fact, it is worth everything. If you really saw it for what it truly is, you would sell everything in order to get it. That’s what these guys in the parable do. They sale everything to get that one thing that is the ultimate treasure. No cost is too great.
I don’t believe Jesus is telling us we can buy the Kingdom. We don’t earn it. What he is giving us is a picture of how beautiful it is. Living in the Kingdom, under the reign of Christ, is the good life. And that should capture our hearts and change everything about us. James K. A. Smith writes that “our ultimate love is oriented by and to a picture of what we think it looks like for us to live well, and that picture governs, shapes, and motivates our decisions and actions.”
Do we picture living in the Kingdom to be the good life? Do we visualize how living under Christ is the way to joy? Are we convinced of the value of orientating our lives to the ways of Christ? To do so requires more than just knowledge however. It requires a reorientation to what we do.
“So, what if we sought to discern not the essence of Christianity as a system of beliefs,” writes Smith, “but instead sought to discern the shape of Christian faith as a form of life?” In other words, our obedience and formation to Scripture moves us deeper into desire and love than just mere knowledge. We obey, therefore, in order to truly have our hearts changed.
Jesus told us that the Kingdom is of ultimate value. But we will not have our hearts shaped by that unless we begin to live under the graceful, loving rule of Christ. Our loves will not be moved to live such a good life until we approach the Scriptures beyond information. We must come to God’s Word in worship, ready to receive transformative grace as our hearts become attuned to that which is presented to us as the true picture of the good life.
God, may we be awakened a bit more today to see how the Kingdom for what it truly is. And may it reorder what we love. Amen.