The longer I work with people, the more I'm inclined to believe that we are driven by our desires. We'd like to think it's our theology or our personal mission statement that animates our lives, but in the real time moments of every day life it's what we want that really affects what we do and the choices we make. And what we want—what we desire most—is shaped by the things we give ourselves to.
For those who follow Jesus, he tells us in his parables that there is really only one thing in this world worth pursuing at any cost—one thing that changes everything else—and he calls that one thing "the kingdom of God." That’s what Jesus wants us to want. That’s what Jesus wants us to give ourselves to. But what is it?
Dallas Willard describes the kingdom of God as the place where life is experienced as God intended it to be experienced. It’s the realm where what God wants to happen, happens. It’s life as it was meant to be lived in all its fullness and wonder.
We recently asked our community to personalize the kingdom and describe--in their own words--the life God invites us into. Here is some of what we wrote:
“You are invited to…
• show the world my goodness and extend my forgiveness.”
• step into your destiny and participate in the greatest story ever told.”
• be at home with me and invite others to come home.”
• feast with me at my table and rest in my courtyard.”
• leave the world of darkness and confusion and enter the light of God
which brings peace and clarity.”
That's what Jesus challenges his followers to pursue, and that’s what he invites us to extend to the world around us.
In our neighborhood, the kingdom of God is experienced and extended when the owner of a new bistro chooses to donate the profits from all his sales on Sunday to local development initiatives; when we gather leaders from other faith communities to join us in worship and prayer for our city; when we walk and talk with our neighbors who are recovering from addictions of all kinds; when a shop owner in our community helps feed families in Tijuana by selling their artwork in her store; when we share our homes and choose to live on less; and when we send those we have come to know and love to go and extend the kingdom of God in other neighborhoods, cities, and countries.
Like leaven in bread, these small kingdom acts find their way into our lives and begin to change who we are…and what we most desire.