Now this is not saying he is Father Christmas and promising every kind of goody we might want, for that is not what the Kingdom is. The kingdom is to know the experiences in life that weather the storm, that outlive the short-lived joys. They are those qualities that never perish, the qualities that elevate our experience to great meaning and our sense of life to a deep sense of fulfilment.
Jesus puts it descriptively...
“Make purses for yourself that do not wear out, ….. (that is, figurative pursues for ) unfailing treasures in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”
If it is God’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom, then it is our job to learn to receive the treasures of life, that are being offered.
I emphasise that receptivity is shaped by attitude and the attitude that is vital is a ‘hopeful expectancy’. Such receptivity requires that hopeful expectancy to come from all possibilities.
Jesus speaks to the people of his day, with an example of a circumstance they would well identify with. Many of them are slaves or servants of a Master. They must attend to his whims and wishes. Jesus knows the good servant is an alert one and so very easy to let ones guard down if the Master has gone away. There are no excuses. They must be alert for his return.
Just as the Master might return when they are unprepared, so the son of Man may come into our life when we are least expecting it. So Jesus warns, ‘you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’ This kind of receptivity is what I call 360 degree alertness. It is symbolized by the shape of a sphere. The Son of Man comes with his gift of the Kingdom at any time or from any way imaginable. I have two examples to illustrate my point
Friday I took the funeral of an old school friend. As a teenager he was highly talented as a student and a sportsman, someone with a lovely friendly personality. On finishing university, he had a tragic cricket accident losing all but minimal movement in his body and hardly an ability to speak. For the past forty-five years he has lived with minimal capacity.
I have always admired his courage and approach to life. In his early days of the handicap, he eventually told his parents, ‘at least I am alive’. Where does such awareness come from? I believe for someone to arrive at this point, one must have a deep openness and expectation for something more to come to us in life, otherwise you would never detect it.
Your troubles would keep you blind and deaf to a rich insight.
As a second example, I share the story of a gentleman who has suffered from the very difficult condition of tinnitus, that horrible ringing in ones ears, that drives one to distraction, and sadly in some cases, to see one take their life.
For twenty years he has fought his problem trying everything to no avail for there is no known cure.We agreed that we should pray for him which I did. Soon after leaving he had a new thought, ‘perhaps he should stop fighting it and accept that that is what life is.’
You might say that his healing at this point has been the renewal of his mind to the point he is not upsetting himself with anger that he is suffering in this way. He speaks of a certain increase in peace. His openness and expectancy has bought him a gift, even if it is not what he might have imagined.
It is a treasure that lasts and a window to that which we speak of as heavenly
Many years ago back in Canada, probably 1979, I recall a sadness in a parish congregation when they learnt of one of their dear parishioners had learnt that he had cancer. Amidst the many wishes of sympathy, he assured everyone, with the declaration that he was not dieing with cancer (which was the common thought 40 years ago) but he was living with its condition.
In each of these cases the people were displaying a vital attitude in life, an open expectation of hope. They were coming close to Jesus instruction to be alert…to figuratively ‘be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.’
Jesus words are a wonderful assurance for anyone, whether in the blessing of a good life or the most challenging storm ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom”…The kingdom is built within, piece by piece, attitude upon attitude, expectancy with expectancy, hope upon hope, so that our simple prayer to Our Father, ‘…your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven…’ can be fulfilled by an open, trusting attitude to believe his words that it is his good pleasure to give us his kingdom.