Thursday, July 16, 2015

Metaphors of the Kingdom of God

In a recent blog, consultant Seth Godin addresses the power of metaphor.  He points out, “The best way to learn a complex idea is to find it living inside something else you already understand.”  In other words, “this” is like “that.”

“When you see a story, an example, a wonderment,” says Godin, “take a moment to look for the metaphor inside.”  Jesus turned this around.  In the use of parables, he told a story or provided a metaphor and challenged his hearers to see the truth within.

For example, in his teaching on the Kingdom (or Reign) of God in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus compares the Kingdom to such things as a mustard seed, yeast, a hidden treasure, a net, a king, and a landowner.  His hearers are encouraged to use their imaginations to understand something that they had never experienced.  He also attempted to shift their perspective so that they might see signs of the Kingdom breaking into their present reality.  These are metaphors for the Kingdom.

Where do we see the kingdom breaking through today?  What are our metaphors of the Kingdom?  This undoubtedly depends on your context.  Last semester, one of my seminary students saw it breaking through in ministry to homeless on the streets of Nashville.  Sometimes we see it when a grade school student stands up to a bully threatening a friend.  We see it when a congregation takes the bold step to change the way that it has always done things so that it can reach out to the unchurched in a more effective way.  When a believer reaches out to one he or she has always seen as “the other,” the Kingdom is present.

We may have a hard time explaining exactly what the Kingdom of God is, but we will know its signs when we see them.



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