Every couple weeks I gather my Young Adult ministry leaders around my dinner table. We eat together with my family and laugh, but then I just TALK to them about... The Kingdom. The first time I tried this, it felt a little odd to be honest. In ministry, we get very used to talking about schedules, events and practical things that ARE all very important. But I've been watching Jesus lately. And Jesus loves to tell ABOUT The Kingdom... even when people wanted Him to be more specific.
"Talk to me about the Kingdom" is one of my favorite things to say to older, wiser Christians. You really never know what they'll say to a question like that. But they'll say SOMETHING. And if they're really wise... it will likely start with, "Well David. The Kingdom of God is like this...." When that happens, I know I'm in for a treat. When that happens, it enriches my soul. I wish I had more of this.
That's how Jesus did it. Even though He simply could have laid it all bare, called a spade a spade and closed opened ends by saying, "Just do it this way and don't think any more about it" ... He didn't. Instead he talked about The Kingdom in tales, stories, analogies and metaphors. To some, this must have been maddening.
In all the gospels Jesus mentions "Salvation" or "Saved" 13 times in both the NIV and KJV combined. The term "Born Again" only twice. However Jesus mentions "The Kingdom" 109 times in the NIV alone. That's a significant disparity. This is not to devalue Salvation or being Born-Again, but I think it shows that it's a PART of The Kingdom. It wasn't short-sighted madness either. See... Jesus knew at the time what Isaiah had once prophesied about him. He knew that,
"... of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom..."
Jesus knew his Kingdom was increasing even as he was speaking and would ALWAYS BE increasing. If he'd simply have said, "This is the final word," man's finite mind wouldn't have been able to appropriate it anyway. Nor would the nuts and bolts of The Kingdom be practically the same throughout the ages. So Jesus told stories. He made people SEEK The Kingdom of God.
"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness... and all these things [what to eat, drink, wear and DO] shall be added to you"
Jesus (with Dave interpretations in brackets)
Shane Claiborne wrote in his wonderful 2009 Esquire Magazine article "What if Jesus meant all that Stuff"
"The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination."
It's not that Jesus doesn't care about the practical items of our everyday life. He cares very much. But He knows that all of it will make progressively more and more sense as we seek after His Kingdom... through following what we know it's LIKE. In the seeking, we begin to have our own adventures. We are given our own obstacles of faith to overcome. These would never happen if we had all the answers at the start of the journey.
"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely."
1 Cor 13:12
So sit down with someone who's been in it for longer than you and say them, "So... talk to me about The Kingdom." Then find someone who hasn't been in it for as long, sit down with them and say, "So... let me tell you about The Kingdom." We are given the gift of expanding hearts that get to embrace this "Ever increasing Kingdom." It's a gift because as we go... we actually begin to GET what it's LIKE.