When we first adopted our daughter Lyla from China, my son Russell was 3 years old. He was adjusting to having to share his parents with a new sibling. Sometimes he would do this funny thing where I would be reading books with Lyla, and Russell would say, “Can I get some care?” It was his little way of saying “Pay attention to me, Mommy.” And then later, Lyla started doing this thing where if I was on my phone and she wanted my attention she would actually take my face in her hands and move my face until I was looking into her eyes. Again, saying, “Pay attention to me, Mommy!”
If we had to sum up every parable Jesus told about the kingdom of God perhaps we could simply say this:
these are stories calling us to pay attention.
Jesus says the kingdom of God is like many things: a farmer sowing seed, a man hunting treasure, a woman kneading dough, fishermen casting a net, a landowner being generous. The kingdom is like seed, yeast, pearl, fish, a banquet, a vineyard, a wineskin. It’s so many different things, it’s hard to say it’s any one thing.
It’s seemingly random. It’s hidden. It’s surprising. It’s disruptive. It’s unexpected. It begins small. It’s something you desperately need or passionately want, but it comes mixed with things that you very much dislike and yet can’t seem to rid yourself of until God says so. It’s something you receive and cultivate. It’s something you seek. It’s something you await and stay ready for. It’s something you’re invited to and come prepared for. It’s something of great value and you need to discover it. It’s something that reverses values and expectations, and you need to adjust yourself to it. It’s something an enemy seeks to destroy.
But this one thing unites all the parables: pay attention. See, the kingdom is always present but often we are absent. So over and over again Jesus says “pay attention.”
May you have eyes to see the kingdom around you and within you today.