• So What Is It Like on the Inside? Written By Dr. R. Paul Stevens
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    Years ago I was involved on the university campuses of Eastern Canada. I was spending a lot of time with students, listening, pondering and engaging them on their life purpose. One student in particular seemed curious about the Christian way. He asked me one day, “Would you let me hang around you for a few days? Just be with you. I want to find out what it is like on the inside to be in the Christian family and to be in the kingdom of God.”  

    What does the kingdom look like? It is something Jesus addressed mainly using metaphors which are ways of drawing meaning from one reality and applying to another, in doing so, bringing depth. One is a surprise. 

    It Is Like an Amazing Party  

    I have never been a perennial party-goer but I can tell you I have enjoyed the ones I have attended. Jesus said the kingdom is a feast with God’s people of all ages (Matt 8:11), a wedding banquet given by a king at the marriage of his son (Matt 22:2). Even though the full coming of that wedding banquet is delayed (Matt 25:1-13) when it happens it is full of joy—a party. From the beginning (like now) to the end (when everything gets wrapped up) Jesus said the kingdom is like a party. Jesus’s first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In fact, he made a lot of really good wine, 80 gallons by some calculations.  

    The final image of the kingdom comes in the book of the Revelation is once again, a wedding party, a picture of life in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 19:6-7). All heaven, really the new heaven and new earth, will be a continuous party in which we eat and drink with Jesus (Matt 26:29). Who would not want to come? But there is more.

    It Is Like Finding a Precious Treasure  

    A  person was plowing a neighbour’s field and the plowshare struck a box  buried in the ground. The farmer stopped the animal and took a good look. Yes, it was a box. He dug around it, pulled it out and opened the clasp. It was full of gold! Wow! So what did he do? He reburied the treasure, went and sold everything he had—a figure of the cost of discipleship to Jesus—liquidated his assets and used the money to buy the field in order to get the treasure (Matt 13:44). Worth everything. But this is not the only image Jesus used.


    It Is like a Potent Transformation  

    The kingdom, Jesus said, is something that brings change, potent change, good change. It is like yeast folded into dough, exploding the dough but making the bread wonderfully digestible (Matt 13:33). And the kingdom is like putting a key into a lock and hurrah, the door opens (Matt 16:19). It like throwing an ember from a fire into a forest with lots of undergrowth and, guess what? That tiny spark produces a forest fire (Luke 12:40). It is like putting salt on a roast that is “just on the turn” and almost inedible, but with salt you love it (Matt 5:13). It brings the taste out. It is like lighting an oil lamp in a completely darkened room—or turning on an LED light in the garage — and then you see everything (Matt 5:14-16). But the potent transformation comes with a price tag: trouble. Is it worth it to have this potent transformation? Yes, as it was for Jesus.

    It Is Like the Person of Jesus   

    In the down-to-earth ministry of Jesus we see the holism of the kingdom as indicated by the words and deeds of Jesus: 

    It is spiritual - “Your sins are forgiven,” said Jesus (Mark 2:9).  

    It is personal - “I will give you rest for your souls,” (Matt 11:28).  

    It is social - In answer to John’s disciples, Jesus said “The blind recover their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the poor are hearing the good news,” (Matt11:5).  

    It has political-cosmic dimensions - Speaking of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders,” (Matt 23:4); and Jesus overturned the table of money changers in the temple, (Matt 21:12).  

    It is economic - “If I have cheated anybody… I will pay back four times the amount,” said Zaccheus the tax collector, (Luke 19:8).  

    As indicated above Jesus did not preach and embody the good news of soul salvation but rather the kingdom of God (which includes soul salvation). 

    So that is what the kingdom is like. Is it worth it to get into it, to serve it, to embrace its life and calling? Why not trying to hang around believers and find out. Or better still, go directly to Jesus and ask in. It is too good to miss.  

    Dr. R. Paul Stevens

    Dr. R. Paul Stevens is a craftsman with wood, words, and images and has worked as a carpenter, a student counsellor, a pastor, and a professor. He is the Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology and Leadership at Regent College, and the Chairman of the Institute for Marketplace Transformation.

    His personal mission is to empower the whole people of God to integrate their faith and life from Monday to Sunday. Paul is married to Gail and has three married children and eight grandchildren, and lives in Vancouver, BC.


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