The Kingdom of Heaven is like chocolate. No, more specific. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a fair trade chocolate truffle. Bear with me on this.
I like chocolate. And I generally won't turn down any chocolate that you'd like to offer me. I'll eat Hershey's Kisses and M&Ms. But I eat M&Ms by grabbing a handful from that bowl on your desk as I pass by, tossing them in my mouth and chewing them all at once while I walk back to my desk. It's a tangential incident to what I'm already doing, forgotten almost as soon as actions of crunch and swallow are over.
But what I really mean when I like chocolate is something more like a hand made, fair trade, dark chocolate truffle with hazelnut ganache.
All my senses are involved. I look at the chocolate and appreciate it's rich color and intentionally crafted shape.
As I pick it up, my conscience is at peace knowing that my soon enjoyment of this confection isn't at the expense of exploitative child slave labor. (I mean, is satisfying my sweet tooth really worth the sacrifice of a child's safety and future?)
Raising the chocolate, the warm, sweet earthiness wafts into my nostrils. (Yes, I smell all of my food first. It's just a thing I do.) My mouth moistens with anticipation, and I take one more deep sniff.
While this chocolate truffle could technically fit in my mouth whole--how could I do such an unthinkable thing? I take a bite, one half or perhaps one fourth of the truffle. I press the morsel to the roof of my mouth, allowing my body heat to release more of the complex flavors. And I don't use my teeth, but only my tongue to compress the chocolate and release it's complicated flavors. Delaying swallowing, I savor it one last time, and then finish consuming that first bite.
And the second and possibly third bite is the same. In the time I have eaten one chocolate truffle, most have eaten the other three in the box. But having more than one in a day seems almost decadent, indecent, improper! I feel as if I would wrong the chocolate I just ate by eating another so soon and commingling them. Switching attention so quickly shatters the reverence.
Oh, and please, silence is appreciated when performing this chocolate ritual. If you ask me a question while I am eating my chocolate, you will have to wait two or three minutes until I am done for an answer. Opening my mouth to speak destroys the delicate balance.
The joy I derive from chocolate doesn't stop after I swallow. If I was given four truffles, knowing that I have three more is delightful. Seriously, I have great pleasure in knowing that there is more for me. And that I could share.
I know this sounds like hyperbole. But ask my husband--this is honestly how I eat chocolate. With all of my senses, taking time to find the delight in each different facet of the experience.
It might sound sacrilegious to say chocolate is divine--and it is. But it also isn't. The Kingdom of Heaven is not chocolate in a literal sense. But there's a glimpse there. Justice is an important part. It requires time and attention. There's a tasting and seeing--and smelling--of the goodness! There is a huge joy, and an anticipation of more. I find it to be an amazing picture of God's extravagant love and grace.
A-ha! Lightbulb moment: I need to be as appreciative of the grace Jesus bought for me as I am of the chocolate bought for me. And as much as I look for and receive joy in chocolate, how much more should I look for and receive joy in the Father's great love?
Selah. (I need a moment to let that sink in.)
Wow. So the next time you eat chocolate, pause, invite the Kingdom of God into that ordinary moment, and taste the extravagant love of God for you.
Here's to sharing chocolate next time we meet!