As I lazed through aisles, I finally ended up in the religion section—and squired away before me were two copies of Brian McLaren’s The Secret Message of Jesus. So, I slipped a copy off the shelf, settled in a comfy, overstuffed chair, and began to leaf through it—and came across his six metaphors for the Kingdom: the dream of God, the revolution of God, the mission of God, the party of God, the network of God and the dance of God.
I like these. Like the images I ran across last week, they break through some of my mental walls and enable me to go back to Jesus’ words and the rest of Scripture carrying a fresh perspective or, at least, slightly more open eyes and ears.
Of the six, I am particularly drawn to the dream of God and the mission of God. In the dream of God, McLaren likens God’s dreams for creation to the dreams of a mother for her child (which resonates with me) or an artist for a novel or symphony—it is a call to “learn to live the way God dreams for us to live.” In the mission of God, McLaren gives us this image (which I’ve grafted from an article adapted from the book here at Sojourners):
We might adapt the metaphor and speak of the medical mission of God, adding the relational connotations of caring and healing. Imagine that everyone on earth has become infected with a horrible virus. The virus makes people physically sick and mentally insane. Its symptoms vary from person to person and place to place: In one place it causes violence, in another sexual aggression, in another lying, in another paralysis, and so on.One more metaphor I really liked was the dance of God:
Imagine that a doctor develops a cure. He brings the cure to you and says, “Once you take this medicine, you’ll begin to feel better, but I’m not just giving you the cure for your sake. As soon as you feel well enough, I want you to make more of the cure and begin bringing it to others. And tell them the same thing: they are being healed not just so they can be healthy but also so they can become healers for the sake of others.” Just as the disease spread “virally,” now the cure will spread. A healing mission—where you are healed so you can join in healing others—would be an apt metaphor for the kingdom of God.
The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God—so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love, vitality, harmony, and celebration. But we humans broke with the dance. We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things. But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of God’s music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and have begun rejoining the dance.To read more about each metaphor, see Sojouner’s article. To read more about McLaren’s book, see Jesus Creed’s series of posts on the book.