seeing God’s Kingdom
Jesus spoke and taught a great deal about God’s Kingdom. In fact, I would argue that this is what Jesus cared about more than anything else. He described God’s Kingdom through story and metaphor and it seems like his followers had a difficult time grasping what it was and how this related to the religious institutions and factions in the first century. I’m not so certain we understand any better than they did what God’s Kingdom exactly is and I’m not so sure this was Jesus’ point.
I had an incredible opportunity last week to experience something of God’s Kingdom; it was not something I exepected. I was invited by a friend to participate in a Leadership Development Program through the Center for Creative Leadership. It was held here at the San Diego office of CCL and people from all over the country joined me in my home town to participate. So 13 strangers from all different walks of life and work engaged in a week long experiment with 2 faculty members.
Before I entered the experience, I had heard from my friend that it would be an incredible experience and I had heard from another former participant to hold my breathe as I received feedback from my boss, co-workers, reports and people from our community of faith. So, I went in open handedly with little expectation of what would transpire. Would this be the best week and exerience of my life? Would it be difficult for me to hear constructive criticism of how people perceive me?
What I encountered in this course were people, as well as myself, who discovered that developing as a leader is not by simply making a few little tweaks but by looking deep at the core of who we are. By looking at the core of who we are, I think I witnessed God’s Kingdom breaking into our lives and world whether we recognize it or not. I would love to share the stories of others but I don’t yet have permission to do that. Let me share a few pieces of my story.
By looking at the core of who I am, I was reminded that God has created me uniquely and creatively. I am formed in his image and being conformed to his likeness. I realized that I am often living up to other people’s expectations of an ET (Extroverted-Thinker) world but I am an NF (Intuitive Feeler). I encountered the question, how do I live with an open heart? Daily, I have opportunities to engage all sorts of people, become more aware of my surroundings, suspend judgement, ask open questions and offer who I am to others from the core of who I am. This, I see as God’s Kingdom breaking into my life and world.
On Saturday, I officiated a wedding at Sunset Cliffs (what an incredible scene to get married). As I began leading the wedding ceremony, I realized that what I had written to share with the couple was not enough. It was a script I wrote and adapted for them in advance but these words were actually not what my heart would say to them. So, I threw out the script and spoke from my heart. I shared with them what my gut was saying (and I don’t think it was indigestion).
While I don’t think I need to speak off the cuff to live with an open heart, I feel that in this situation, on the cliffs, with this couple and their family and friends gathered around, they needed to hear from my heart. I actually had a difficult time holding it together as I looked into the eyes of the bride and groom and saw the tears of joy welling up in their corners.
God’s Kingdom had broken into my life and onto the scene of this wedding. They knew God was there and I saw him at work. We experienced God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
Where have you seen God’s Kingdom breaking into your life?