18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:18–21 ESV)
I have, for as long as I can remember, wanted to give my life to God. To serve God. To live amongst people who want to serve God. Praying and worshiping and caring for others, sheltering the wounded, protecting the vulnerable, and finding the lost.
It is all I want. I wanted fame and fortune once, and several time in my life I thought they were in my grasp.
But I want to love my neighbor. And not worry about anything else. I want to live in, and surrender, to the Kingdom of God.
I’d be an urban monk if I could, living simply, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting any of this. Some are clearly called to that kind of life. And maybe I am too.
The kingdom, however, is not so much a place we dwell, surrounded by the artifacts of Christian life, as it is something that dwells within us. It is not the world, and it does not rule the world. It can’t. It dwells within the world, giving us life and breath and sustenance, it is everywhere and in everything, making love possible. Giving love meaning and purpose. It is hidden, brought out only because the bread has risen or because the birds have a place to nest. Because we see what it has done. Is doing.
This kingdom is a verb and not a noun. It is an act, not a place.
This kingdom, it is our sanctuary, but it is not a fortress. It is not an army, and it is not deterrence or fear. It is not that kind of strength. It is the strength to love, this kingdom, knowing that our love is the very leavening and the very branches where sanctuary is possible.
I still want to live a simple life, worshiping God, caring for the wounded, and finding the lost. But I do that not to hide from the world, or not as some alternative to a worldly life. I do that because I am the the kingdom of God when I live that way. When I live as Jesus has called me to live. When I love God and neighbor and enemy … in the world.