“For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”
God’s Kingdom is talked about a lot. It’s a sort of abstract thing that we believe exists, but have a hard time explaining. Even Jesus avoids bullet points when talking about the Kingdom. It’s always extremely weird comparisons like, “The Kingdom is like a mustard seed in a garden…leaven in loaves of flour…a hidden pearl of great worth…a buried treasure.” With clues like that, it’s no wonder we have trouble describing it.
I can’t say that I could make a simple list of what the Kingdom of God is (or isn’t), but I believe that I have seen it. The best that I can come up with is to say that searching for the Kingdom is like looking for the hidden image within a picture. Like the picture of the tree that has Jesus’ face in it. My friends told me it was there, but I couldn’t see it to save my life. I searched for well over 10 minutes until finally I caught a glimpse of it. As I’m sure you can relate, once I saw the image I couldn’t unsee it. Every time I saw that picture from that day forth, I saw Jesus’ face in that tree. Something happened. My eyes adjusted just right, or maybe I looked from a different angle. Whatever it was, it helped me see what was right in front of me all along.
Sometimes I think different things keep us from seeing God’s Kingdom. Maybe it’s a belief that we are not worthy of it. I have met several people at Joshua Station who think that way. They think this because they didn’t go to school. They don’t really read the Bible all that much. They did so many things wrong. They are convinced that God and God’s Kingdom is beyond their reach.
Or maybe what keeps us from seeing the Kingdom is the fact that we are convinced that we see it already. It’s a dangerous thing, to believe that God can’t surprise you. Many of us have a box that we have built. This box contains the barriers that God most certainly won’t cross. We know who God will use to communicate truth. We know where God will communicate it. And we know how it will happen. Of course God has a track record of breaking our boxes. Whether it’s His choice to reveal Jesus’ birth to astrologers who glean wisdom from the stars (something that many of us would still have trouble believing today) or His persistence in inviting those outside of God’s People in.
Jesus’ words about coming to restore sight to the blind and to blind those who see are a bit confusing. It kind of seems like Jesus is picking sides and blessing one group while punishing another. But, maybe both groups are being given the same invitation. Maybe the invitation is to see God’s Kingdom and Jesus is merely pointing out both of their unique obstacles along the way. Whether it’s needing to have sight restored or needing to experience blindness, maybe Jesus is trying to adjust their vision just enough that they finally see what has been there all along.
Try as we might, I don’t think we will fully see God’s Kingdom on this side of the veil. But maybe, just like that picture I was talking about, once we catch a glimpse of it we will not be able to unsee it. Maybe that glimpse will be enough to change the entire course of our lives. I think that has happened to many people over the years. For Nicole and I, Joshua Station gave us that glimpse that can’t be unseen. While explaining exactly why might be difficult, we know that our experience here has completely changed the way we see ourselves, others and all of creation. I feel like God blinds me and restores my sight fairly regularly. It seems like each time it happens I catch another glimpse of the Kingdom in my midst. Another glimpse that cannot be unseen.