My wife and I have an impressive and growing collection of books in our little house. Some of them are even leather bound, which, it ought to go without saying, makes each of us a pretty big deal. The mere fact that I have doubled my book collection in taking a wife has to be one of my top five favorite things about being married. Usually, when I get done reading a book, I re-shelf it and stare at the bookcase looking for my next adventure.
And I am getting to the point where I realize I am reading according to my mood. It is the same thing I do with music. A couple of years ago, my friend Jim and I decided that we would tell the other when he was listening to too much Radiohead. It turns out that the lyrics, although brilliant, are severely depressing. The same goes for books. Peggy can usually tell if I am reading too much Steinbeck because I get really quiet and start making speeches about the plight of the common worker. But that is really the beauty of the arts. Our choices not only reflect our moods, but there is a way in which our moods are created by them.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking when I sat down to read the bible this morning. I remember when I was in college and I came across the book of Ecclesiastes. Before I read it, I had been thinking about what life meant, and there was even a book about how our lives had purpose to them that I had read. But Ecclesiastes struck me because it is written by a guy who believes God has purpose to everything, but then again, maybe he does not. I remember being struck with just how honest the writers of the bible were. I needed that. I needed to be assured that I was not the only one who experienced dissonance between what I believed and what I…well…what I believed.
This is the long way around introducing a short study I want to do on Matthew 13. This is a collection of short stories that Jesus told about kingdom life. They are stories about heaven, yet they are stories of earth. And I am glad Jesus told them in such a way that they had rooting in real life. There is no disconnection for Jesus, when it comes to heaven and earth. At least not like the disconnection in my own view of heaven and earth.
The story of Jesus is the story of heaven and earth in the activity of coalescence. And so is our story. The coalescence of heaven with earth. The coalescence of earth with heaven.
And here the kingdom of God meets in commonality with marriage. The two become one, yet grow in their own identities. Here the kingdom of God is like music. The units of time, of space, of sharps and flats form a harmony. And here the kingdom of God is like a truly good book. The tension is so palpable it feels like you can reach out and touch it with your finger.
What comes to your mind when you think about the kingdom of God?