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In which I reject the temptation of negative definition for the Kingdom of God

I’ve spent years of my life defining myself by what I am not.  I see and hear all of us, an entire evangelical generation of rejectors, not knowing what we are but just knowing that we aren’t that or them, unsure of what new kind of Christian we are, what new kind of church is emerging. Our words of Being are lost in the haze of disillusionment, of negative definition. I’m not like them at all (oh, but I am still, if I’m most honest) but then who am I?

And so then I look here, this Kingdom of Love, my second-but-really-first home for my definition.  But even here, we have somehow narrowed the scope of the God-intended way of life - vast and wonderful - right down into some sort of a boundary-marker faith, judging by this outward behaviours or phrases who is “in” and who is “out.” Vote a certain way. See certain movies. Raise your kids a certain way. Listen to certain preachers. Mentally assent to a few things. And we think that that the kingdom might be as boring as church can be, endless preaching and singing of off-key hymns and it’s heaven for someday.

So if I look away from the negative definition, turn my words from that temptation of someday and the temptation of negative-definition, I’m now here: All good and perfect gifts come from the Father. The same Father watching a road for a wayward son, the same Father that gave everything to the older son too. The same Father that cured sin throws the doors open, parties with prostitutes and thieves.

So the kingdom of God is a pearl of great price. It’s the yeast for the good bread, the kneading and the thumping, the warmth and the smell of bread with just a bit of butter.  It’s the smallest seed of a shrub (and it’s a mighty tree of life). It’s treasure in the field worth everything. It’s a bonfire for dancing and laughter. It’s stars on the water and sand between your toes. It’s family blood that thickens and holds and pumps in every life and it’s friendship that needs no words, only a raised eyebrow, for an entire conversation to happen because really what is family but this and all of us in this together?

And I think that the Kingdom is every good and perfect moment in our life serving as a taste, just a small taste, of what God truly intended. It’s making your tinies laugh. It’s sleeping babes curled into their mother’s breast and the heft of holding another soul. It’s silent nights of snow and cold water in your throat on a hot day. It’s wisdom and beauty, peace, love and joy and then it’s also good coffee and real food, late afternoon sun and handmade quilts. It’s the renewal of morning and the intimacy of night.

And I also think the kingdom is every evil and terrible moment in life redeemed. It’s a kingdom of inversions, of the least being the greatest, of finding that sweet wholeness in the desert seasons, the child and the aged loved and honoured. It’s a gorgeous crazy family that listens and talks too loud and will love you harder in your very weakest moment.  It’s art and co-creation, it’s music and theology in every step.  It’s for the peaceful and the meek, the loving and the bold but none of us are really that so we put on a wedding dress and run down an aisle because it’s also a wedding and a feast. It’s a beer raised while hollering cheers! and it’s good wine glasses clinked with a sparkle and eyes meeting underneath a star-filled sky, it’s making love and waking up in each other’s arms, satiated and tangled. It’s innocent and whole, forgiveness and redemption. It’s giving money away because there is a bigger treasure in the giving than in the hoarding.

The kingdom is an about-face, it’s eyes that see and ears that hear and hearts that understand.  It’s a mountain-top-moment of inspiration and it’s the mystery of finding God in the smallest and most mundane of moments, too. It’s that quiet that presses in on your ears when you’re underwater, lungs bursting and then breaking the surface to gulp in life and hear the cheers of your new family, baptized. It’s play and work equally nourishing your soul and windows open in the springtime.

This Father, this Son-Brother, this Holy Spirit  breathed life is doors wide open and it is instead of what is-not here in the Kingdom but it’s also the Not, too – no weeping, no sorrow, no sadness, no pain, nothing broken, nothing hurt.

And then we are back again to this: wholeness.


Reposted from the archives.

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can God be trusted?, faith, jesus, journey, scripture, suffering