The Kingdom of God as Jesus presents it is a kind of La La Land. It’s idealistic, fanciful, hopeful, starry-eyed. It imagines another world and another way of living that may seem unrooted from reality. God invites us (pleads with us?) to live differently, to follow and share this dream of a different way and world.
What’s your dream and how hard are you willing to work for it? Are you able to pursue it even when others around you want you to be more realistic?
The parables of the Kingdom of God told by Jesus present God’s preferred future as a kind of fantacy, a flight of fancy, a “la la land.” The motion picture La La Land is the common story of artists in Hollywood seeking to live out their dreams – one a writer and actor, the other a jazz musician. It becomes clear through their telling of their own stories that these are long-held goals from early childhood. It also is clear, and no surprise, that the chances of “making it” are slim – the odds are definitely not in their favor. And yet, they persist. But their persistence is not without struggle, doubt, and even moments of giving up hope. After all, “maybe I’m just not good enough.”
This narrative holds two themes we will highlight – the first is that many people have dreams that seem to go unfulfilled, and often even untried. (It may be all people, but I have no way of knowing that.) Whether their circumstances or people around them present obstacles, or simply don’t offer any clear path forward, these people do not pursue their dreams. And I think the world is the poorer for it. After all, “The dreams in our hearts may be the seeds of the kingdom of God.” And if that is true, then one goal of faith is to allow the dreams within us to emerge, and to encourage and support the dreams of others as they give voice and vision to new life and hope.
The second theme is that The Kingdom of God is itself a dream which seems far off and improbable, if not impossible. We read what Jesus asks of us, and look at ourselves, those around us, and the resources available, and we say, “Who is God kidding? Who are we kidding? This will never happen. It will never work.” And so often we don’t even try, or try so halfheartedly as to ensure failure before we even begin. Again, we and the world are the lesser for not having given God’s dreams our all, despite the high possibility of failure.
So much is beyond our influence and control. Yet God calls us forward into faith, and invites us to launch into this grand experiment of the church, the Body of Christ on earth (itself an absurd and mysterious premise). We journey together with one another and with God. We dare to dream the improbable, and to pursue it trusting that these acts of faith are themselves some fulfillment of God’s dream for us. Let us boldly pursue the foolish gospel of Jesus and work together with God to create this la la land, the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. And let us sing and dance our way through the sorrows and the joys of this adventure together.