The Kingdom…in a Nutshell
by Rhonda Rhea
I love eating a big handful of money. Er…pecans. I meant pecans.
Seriously though, sometimes a gal just wants to snack on some of those delish pecans, right? And evidently also wants to cease having that extra $14.50.
Not to get all squirrely about it or anything, but I had a craving for them the other day and the only bag I could find at the convenience store was tiny—and eight bucks. I bought them anyway. Even though I knew that was just nuts.
I wonder if squirrels even know what they’re stashing away these days. If they figured it out and learned to trade them on the gem market, maybe they could leave those old trees behind and move on up to a de-luxe apartment in the sky.
Our faith walk is often affected by what we squirrel away, spiritually speaking. Sometimes without even realizing it, we find we’re spending all our work energies angling for hanging onto comfort and ease and contentment in our circumstances. Sometimes our focus is stolen away by an intense desire to stash away money and things. Sometimes we can find ourselves desperately scrambling for great power, influence, or fame—scrambling like we’re readying for the hardest winter.
As we’re following Christ, the “hardest winters” are the ones we experience when all those earthly aspirations leave us feeling disappointed, dissatisfied, disillusioned—empty. Joyless. Brr. Even worthy aspirations are empty when we seek them selfishly or we leave Jesus out.
Paul said in Romans 14:7 that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (CSB). It’s not about that handful of snacks. We find joy as we focus on the kingdom of God, and as we let the Holy Spirit rule our hearts.
Two of the parables of Jesus teach us the overwhelmingly precious value of His kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46, CSB).
Jesus teaches that the kingdom is so valuable, a person will freely give up everything else in life to lay hold of it. The kingdom of heaven—that place where God, our King, rules.
For believers, the King rules in our hearts by His joy-giving Holy Spirit. To follow whole-heartedly is our calling. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, CSB).
Lord, by the working of Your Holy Spirit in me, help me focus right there, finding life, stashing away the eternally valuable, letting go of anything temporary I might selfishly crave. Giving all. As Your kingdom dwells in me, may I dwell in Your kingdom.
I want to pray that regularly, allowing Him to renew my focus every place it gets off.
That’s probably also why I’m giving up on my jewelry idea. The one where I make myself a necklace. From 24 karat pecan halves.