The Messy Kingdom of God

It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving. This stretch of the year from Thanksgiving through the New Year is the favorite time of year in our house. My wife has started to explore recipes for Thanksgiving meals with family. And she is geared up for Christmas music to be played as soon as the Thanksgiving holiday passes. One of our favorite things to do during the Thanksgiving holidays is prepare food in the kitchen, together. My family likes to wreck the kitchen as we work together to make something so good. It takes time, and it makes a mess. But it’s good.

At a recent Family Camp retreat my friend, Paul Randall, made a great analogy that incorporated the coming kingdom of God and the process of working together in the kitchen. It reminded me of when we work in the kitchen to prepare a meal during the Thanksgiving holidays. It would certainly be more efficient and less messy if my wife were to work alone. However, it’s certainly more special to her when we join her in the work. Especially the kids. Making a mess. Seeing them experience new things. This is not unlike the Kingdom of God.

God could choose for the kingdom to grow and flourish in this world without the work and participation of mankind. God doesn’t need us. However, God chooses to involve us. He works with the messes. He allows us to experience new things. He calls us to be involved in the beauty of what is created by kingdom flourishing.

A stanza from the hymn, “Lead on O King Eternal”–recorded by our friend Sara Groves (who will be joining us at LLFC again this summer)–reminds me of the unexpected but beautiful ways God engages with the world:

“For not with swords’ loud clashing, Nor roll of stirring drums But deeds of love and mercy The heavenly kingdom comes.”

The kingdom of God advances in the unexpected way of deeds of love and mercy.  Deeds of love and mercy are usually messy. They always have been. Throughout scripture we see God working in the midst of the messes of humankind, using deeds of love and mercy, so that the kingdom would advance. God calls Abraham to sacrifice his only son (Genesis 22), God uses Joseph to bring about change in Egypt (Genesis 37-47), God forgives the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), and on, and on.

The lives of our families are often messy. Not only while we work together in the kitchen but even more so as we navigate how best to love and raise our children, care for our spouse or navigate relationships with friends and coworkers. At Laity Lodge Family Camp we are so thankful that we get to participate with God in the mess of families to see the kingdom advance. You too, as a family, are invited to participate with God in the messy of deeds of love and mercy. All so God’s kingdom will advance. It takes time, and it makes a mess. But it’s good.

Questions to consider:

  • What are some activities that your family does together during the holiday season that are messier because you do them together?
  • What are some deeds of love and mercy that your family could participate in during this holiday season that will contribute to God’s kingdom advancing?
  • Explore a Scripture passage referenced in this article and consider how God works in the midst of the mess of mankind in order to see His kingdom advance.