Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 75. Explaining the Kingdom
Mk 4:30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?
Possibly because it is familiar for many of us and perhaps we take it for granted, but we can miss the focus of Jesus’ teaching. Again and again we find he uses parables to illustrate something about the kingdom of God. Yes, we have noted something of this before, but because it comes up so often we need to refocus on it again and again, otherwise we are just seeing words and miss what they are saying.
Basic fact: God reigns over everything in existence because He made it. He is above it and distinct from it and His power can do what He likes with it. The fact that he has given mankind free will does not detract from that. He is sufficiently great, sufficiently wise and sufficiently all-knowing, that He could outclass us and sort us as a Grand Master chess champion outclasses a mere beginner. We are just not in the same league whatever we think of ourselves. The fact that He does not destroy us the first time we sinned in childhood, is merely His mercy. The fact that he gives us chance after chance to repent and to turn to Him is all mercy and grace.
He has designed and brought this world into being and He knows how it (and that includes human beings) ‘work best’. Because of sin we have decided that we know how we work best and that is so often contrary to God’s design and so we bring destruction upon ourselves. But that doesn’t stop God loving us, because He is love (1 Jn 4:8,16) and because He continually loves He continually wants the best for us – but He knows that we can only experience the best when we come back to His original design, and that involves living in relationship to Him.
Talk about the kingdom of God first means coming back under the rule of God so that He can restore us to experience something of that original design. Yes, this side of heaven we will still be tainted with sin and can never be perfect, but we can, because of the wonder of what Christ has done on the Cross, live in relationship with Him.
Now the kingdom refers to something more. It refers to the very existence within the presence of God. Wherever God is, there is peace and there is goodness and there is love, because all these things are expressions of the One who is Lord of all things, and as we live in relationship with Him we experience something of this experience. The kingdom is also an environment, and existence with Him. Enjoy it!