He didn’t put it that way exactly, but I could tell that—for him—the success of our year-long, every-member mission trip has been less than satisfying. He talked about volunteers reading to second-graders, and people building Habitat houses, and others who visit the homebound. “All good things,” he acknowledged, but he wondered if any of those things were having Kingdom results.
At first I felt a little defensive. I thought about some of those people who have shared their KOH2RVA stories with me, and the joy on their faces as they talked. “Are you saying we should stop doing that?” I asked, “That we should focus only on saving souls?” But he quickly countered, “No, not just that, but that, too.” And that’s when I began to realize that what he wants is the full Kingdom experience.
Because the Kingdom of Heaven is bigger than all the good deeds we could do and all the lost souls we could save. Jesus struggled for the words to describe it. He used to ask regularly, “What is the Kingdom of heaven like, and to what shall I compare it?” He faced the difficulty of explaining a heavenly reality to people who had never had any experience of heaven. And so he said, “It’s like finding a treasure in a field.” “It’s like watching a tiny seed grow into a tree.” “It’s like a lost son coming home.” It’s like that, but it’s not that.
It’s much, much bigger than that.
When I talk about bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, I always have that bigger reality in mind. So while the Kingdom of Heaven might be like someone reading to second-graders it’s not that. It’s bigger than that. But that’s a sign of the coming Kingdom—a parable if you will.
I think what my conversation partner was saying yesterday is that he wants God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven, which is just what I want, and just what Jesus wants, and if we are all feeling a kind of “holy impatience” until it comes that’s probably just what we are supposed to feel. It keeps us thinking, working, hoping, praying, sighing, longing,
For heaven on earth.