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“Metaphors for the Kingdom of God”

  • International
  • October 30, 2012
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Many of the metaphors Jesus uses to describe God’s ways among us are taken from ordinary life. Here are two, recognizable to any peasant man or woman of the time.

The ‘kingdom of God’ is like a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are tiny to look at, but when the shrub grows to full height, it can be eight to twelve feet high, easily providing a nesting place for birds.

So too, God’s word and action, insignificant to start with and often scarcely even noticed, can leave an impact quite beyond their origin. The earnest prayers of a small group of Christians in an American city became the Charismatic Movement, which renewed the whole Church. The assertiveness of a simple black woman to sit where she chose in a bus grew into the civil rights movement that transformed American society. The dedication of a middle-aged nun in Calcutta forever changed the way the world sees the poor and destitute.

The passage ends with a homely metaphor, familiar to anyone who knows their way around a kitchen. A woman mixes yeast into the flour, kneads and bakes it, so that a loaf of bread rises, brown and crisp.

What does the metaphor mean? The spirit of God enters our mundane lives, mixes with it thoroughly, and makes this life of ours rise into something new and special. This is the presence of ‘the reign of God’ within us.
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