I like metaphors. I even have a book titled, “I never metaphor I didn’t like.” Ironically I’ve only opened it a few times. Regardless, metaphors can be very helpful when dealing with the sublime. Jesus employed them often, as did OT prophets, and new testament writers. When it comes to something as vast as understanding and responding to God’s call to allign oneself with His Kingdom, one metaphor has recently stuck out to me.
And, since a church member recently showed appreciation for it (meaning at least two people like it!), I’ll pass it on. Consider your Kingdom responsibility/opportunity as though you are being allowed to rent, borrow, play on someone else’s property. Have you ever been told, “Make sure to leave the place better than how you found it!” I know I have. I can remember thinking, “Well, that garbage was already here, or such and such was like this when we got here.” But if we consider that we are ultimately bound for completion of God’s Kingdom here on Earth (leasing to own, if you will), it makes more sense to think of our neighborhoods, jobs, families, etc…, not in terms of how we found them, but how we have left them.
I like this metaphor for a few reasons.
1.) It promotes faithfulness in all the areas God has given you. We can dream big, as well as realistically, trusting that “small” acts of kindness, faithfulness, love, sharing gospel, will end up leaving your area better than when you came to it. “Ordinary” faithfulness can make a difference.
2.) It doesn’t promote some sort of triumphalistic storm-hell-with-water guns type of immediate expectation.
3.) It also promotes not leaving your area just because this is the way it was when you found it. We are so quick to run to a nicer area and leave behind many opportunities. Sometimes you are called to leave-and you obviously should. For work. For safety. For other reasons too. But perhaps our first reaction shouldn’t be to leave for greener pastures.
4.) It promotes something bigger than ourselves. If we think of our areas of influence more in terms of “when we leave” instead of “this is how I found them,” I think our hearts will then be much more aligned with His Kingdom purposes NOW. Our small lives, and small churches will live bigger when recognize we really are part of a bigger story, a bigger Kingdom. It is not about me, or you. It is about His glory filling the Earth, prayerfully more tomorrow than today, and more even after we’ve gone. Consider your city a 100 years from now and love it even though you may never get to experience those dreams now. But remember your Manatee County (or whatever your county) of your dreams is still in heaven (Rev 21), waiting to come down from heaven at the just the right time.