On the first hot, sunny and long weekend of the year, many in the city were outside enjoying the weather. Frederictonians are quick to dive in to the almost summer time. A steady stream of trucks towing trailers (that’s caravans in Brit-speak) and cars with canoes strapped to their roof racks head out-of-town. Nothing wrong with that.
In contrast though, the weekend found us inside at the convention centre. Even though the weather was gorgeous, there is nowhere I’d rather have been. Our church hosted a conference, ‘Kingdom Come’, so there were a bunch of people from our own church, Christ Central Church Fredericton, but also from other churches in the city and from our family of churches across the nation. A family get together.
I’ve written before how I love the church. I do. I love worshipping Jesus, laughing, hanging out, and learning together. All different backgrounds, ages and nationalities, yet all made one in Jesus. Full of variety, gifts and expression. We’re in God’s presence together and it is a beautiful thing. Messy sometimes, but life changing stuff when His Spirit is among us.
We heard stories about God’s kingdom. Stories (parables) that Jesus told that are written in the Bible and stories of how the kingdom is growing now in nations around the world – in nations that you may not expect it to be, even in Muslim majority nations. Miraculous stories. Stories that make you say, ‘This can only be God.’ It’s not a kingdom as we understand and it doesn’t suddenly take nations like an invading force.
That’s what shocked the Jews of the time so much when Jesus talked about the kingdom. They expected a Messiah who would bring the kingdom in with military victory. Jesus is not what they expected. Jesus told stories that were meant to change their worldview of what the kingdom is like, and they change ours. It grows like a seed, it’s like a small piece of leaven working through the whole dough. It starts small and grows to be a blessing to the nations.*
‘We don’t take the city, we serve the city.’ David Devenish
As much as I love being part of a weekend conference, the real challenge is to go out from there. The ‘nowhere I’d rather be’ needs to be extended to the places I live my life, because that’s where He is taking His kingdom. Everywhere I go in my daily life. In every activity. The challenge is to be where God has planted me for His kingdom rather than living for what may be round the corner – to be content with my small contribution right now.
I’m good at thinking like this: ‘I know God has got something for me that he wants me to do, I’m just waiting for him to show me.’ Actually it’s now, it’s where I am, it’s what I do now, in the places God has put me now to serve. Planted like a seed.