Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kingdom thoughts in the Gas Line

. . . Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15).

“Upside down” is the moniker we’re using to speak of God’s kingdom. By that we mean to say that God’s rule in the world turns things upside down; it’s a great reversal. William Willimon helps get at the meaning of “upside down” by explaining it this way:

Jesus took those whom we put at the fringe of society and put them right in the middle of the disciples . . . It is as if Jesus wanted to say, “You want to get into my kingdom? The only way to get into my kingdom is to be very small, very little, very needy. There will be no adults in my kingdom, no self-sufficient, liberated, autonomous, independent adults. There will only be children. Here is a kingdom that has a very small door.” (Willimon, Peculiar Speech, 68-69)

Lately I’ve had to admit that living upside down isn’t easy. Living under the rule of God is not instinctive, at least not for me. This truth is being clarified for me in the ongoing search for gas.

I don’t like to get up early on Saturday mornings, but this past Saturday I left the house at 6:30 to get Krispy Kremes (my kids really like them) and to look for gas. Finding the Krispy Kremes was no problem. The gas was a different matter entirely. On the way home I approached a QT with a tanker in the lot and fairly long line was already forming. I took my place in line, a good 10 or 15 cars from the pumps, and resisted the urge to snack on the Krispy Kremes.

The whole find-the-gas experience has made me think of Exodus 16 and the story of God’s provision of manna in the wilderness. God told the people to take only what they needed for one day. They were not horde it and keep some tucked away for tomorrow. If they tried, the manna rotted. Take only what you need for this day and trust God to provide when you wake up in the morning.

If I were to take that seriously I would simply drive my car until the needle sat right on empty, knowing that God would lead me to a land flowing with premium and regular unleaded. But I don’t do that. Half begins to feel empty to me. Driving down to three-fourths makes me very antsy, like the guy who stuffs extra manna in his pockets so he won’t run out.

This kingdom teaches us to feel secure in a full tank of gas. God’s kingdom tells us that our needs will be met because God knows what we need. This kingdom conditions us to have more than enough. God’s kingdom conditions us to give away and to seek only what we need for this day. God’s kingdom feels strange, a tough place to live.

Is there something that makes it hard for you to live in God’s kingdom? What challenges your confidence in God’s rule over all things? Name what it is as this day begins and ask God to help you live the day upside down.

Lord Jesus, we are immersed in a Kingdom very different from yours. Our thinking and our desires are often defined by this world, and that makes your ways seem odd and even threatening. Teach us to trust you. Help us to see things as you see them. Make us fit for life in your kingdom we pray. Amen.

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