Although we are brand new customers of TIC Federal Credit Union, I have never been inside one of their buildings. TIC happened to be the institution that the car dealership used to help us finance our new vehicle. Last week, I had no idea where to find a local TIC branch to make good on our first payment. The website claimed there was a branch in our hometown of Smiths but provided no address. Smiths isn't a big place, and I've lived here all my life. I thought I could picture where it was probably located.
So off I went in search of TIC. But when I arrived at my targeted destination, what I found instead was a Wells Fargo. I know Smiths like the back of my hand. Where else could this place be? I was running out of time, and I had to pick up my kids from school. The payment would have to wait. After all, I'm sure there's a grace period. Then, on the way to my kids' school, I spotted what I had been searching for. There was the local TIC branch directly in front of Walmart. Now, although I almost never enjoy going to Walmart, I must say that I have been there countless numbers of times. How long had I driven past this very TIC and never paid it one ounce of attention? Why had I never seen it before? Why couldn't I find a place that I had been next door to for years?
When my son, Noah, was younger, he would find coins on the ground almost everywhere we took him. Like a little hawk, he would pick up coins in his sight that we would have stepped right over. I always thought it was because he was closer to the ground. One day I asked him, "Noah, how do you always find money on the ground?" He replied, "Because I'm always looking."
Wherever He went, Jesus would beckon the crowds to "repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." Jesus says the Kingdom of God is here among us. It is somehow present in the world in which we live, work, and drive our cars. Jesus' words are no less true today than when He spoke them, and we are no more likely to really believe them than His first audience. In some ways, it is much easier to believe in a coming Kingdom of God than a present one, if we dare to believe at all.
Could it be that we live right in the midst of this ever-present Kingdom each day and never notice it? I'm not talking about gold-plated thrones and blue-haired ladies with fancy jewelry on TBN. I'm talking about the reality of hope and of love, and of Jesus reigning over all things, and of God getting His way, and of dead, flat-lined hearts being made alive in the process. I'm talking about new hearts that open new eyes to see a morbidly ordinary world being transfigured in goodness and beauty by a resurrected Redeemer. Do we pass through this reality like ghosts haunted by our busy schedules and broken lives? Do we step over gold coins on our way to pay the bills?
Perhaps the reason we miss seeing the Kingdom of God is simply that we aren't looking. It's why when Jesus tells us about this Kingdom, He also tells us to "repent." Repentance is a fundamental shift in our thinking that leads to a radical change in our living. Jesus is calling us to think differently about God, about the world around us, and about the way those two intersect. The Good News is that God has intersected our world. He has broken in from the inside. He has planted a Seed that is sprouting buds, yeast that is spreading throughout the whole batch of dough. If we are too blind and distracted to see God's work around us, there is still hope for us that we might become part of His work. Our hope is that this Jesus who gives our world beauty for ashes is the same who gives our eyes sight for scales. This same Jesus who commands us to "seek first the Kingdom of God" also promises that "all who seek shall find."
To what can I compare the Kingdom of God? How can I describe it? It is like a little boy who always finds treasure wherever he goes because he's always looking.