I don't know if any of you have become as obsessed with the new TV show "Once Upon A Time" as I have, but woah! Beside pure entertainment I find it an interesting parallel to The Kingdom of God that we read about in the Gospels (Specifically the Gospel of Matthew). See if you can see the Kingdom values that I did.
For those of you who don't know, the concept of the show is based around a character named Emma, who happens to be the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. However, the twist of this fairytale drama (or "Dram-airy" as I like to call it) is that Snow White's evil step-mother, The Queen, arrives the day Emma is born to steal away Charming and Snow's 'Happily Ever After'. The only way for Prince Charming and Snow White to save their daughter and the Kingdom is to put their daughter in a 'Magical' cupboard where she is transported to another realm where the evil Queen's magic doesn't exist.
When The Queen finds out that the baby has been hidden away she buys a curse potion from Rumpelstiltskin to banish the whole Kingdom to a place where they is no magic. This is so she can take away everyone's 'Happily Ever After'... and thus all the beloved fairytale characters that we know, are cursed to our world and live in town called Storybrooke. The only way for the fairytale character to get their 'Happy Endings' is for The Savior, or Emma (the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White) to break the curse...
Her son found a fairytale book that contains all the fairyland characters and their stories. The show explains that Emma's young son trust everything that is written in the book simply because he believes, a classic child-like trust. Emma on the other hand is not so easily convinced. She constantly is telling her son that the stories are not real. However, her son is adimit that the stories are true, that Emma is a part of the Story, that the Story is not yet finished and that she can play a very significant role in how the Story ends.
In Matthew chapter 13 Jesus is desperate to get the idea of what The Kingdom of God is across to His disciples. Jesus knew that the hope he was promising His followers was wrapped up in them believing in Him and His Kingdom. So he wanted to teach them what His Kingdom is all about. He knew he needed to describe it using terms and life situations that the people around him were experiencing. In this world we describe kingdoms, cities and fortresses simply by the physical material that has created them or their physical location... but as Jesus describes the Kingdom of God He uses stories that paint a picture, not of high walls or rich markets or beautiful architecture... instead he explains the Kingdom of God in action, as a living and breathing form of life. Jesus took situations that the everyday normal person would have done to support their life (gardening, making bread, harvesting, treasure hunting, fishing) and explained how these were a reflection of Life in God's Kingdom... a space for people to mature, to grow, to have good, to be accepted, to be treasured, to be protected. God's Kingdom is a magical place that will exist regardless of weather people believe or not... BUT people can only get involved in this viberent Kingdom if they first choose to believe....
So what does this have to do with the T.V. series Once Upon A Time? In one episode Emma is getting closer and closer to believing the fairytale stories, but still is keeping a very healthy distance. In once episode Pinocchio (now a grown man named August living in Storybrooke) was reminded that he was supposed to help Emma believe in the Story. As long as Pinocchio helps Emma believe he could be human, but if he couldn't help her believe he would be turned back into a wooden puppet. In one desperate scene Pinocchio/August is telling Emma who she is, how she came into the world and that she has to believe in the Story. Emma refuses. Pinocchio falls over in pain as his leg begins to turn back to wood. In desperation he yells at Emma, "If you wont believe me then you have to believe this..." he then pulls up the leg of his trouser to relieve his wooden leg. Emma walks over and more confused then ever explains that she sees nothing. In shock Pinocchio realizes that Emma's denial to believe the truth prevents her from seeing the reality of what is happening. They both become more confused and desperate.
In the season finale The Evil Queen is beside herself, desperate to make sure that Emma never believes. The evil Queen (who in our world is the mayor of Storybrooke) bakes Emma a poisoned apple turnover. Emma's son, desperate to make her believe in the story, eats the poisoned turnover and instantly falls into a deadly coma. In this life or death moment Emma tries to rationalize all the events of her life only to come face to face with herself asking the question "Are all the stories about the kingdom, her parents, her purpose really true?" An in a moment she decides to believe. A pulse of change instantly sweeps over Emma and the entire town of Storybrook... Through her belief Emma remembers the Story and her part in how it unfolds.
Emma runs over to Pinocchio/August house to find him laying in bed; his arms and legs completely wood. And for the first time she sees the real world she is in. She then realize that she has a part in the Story and if she want to get her happily ever after back she is going to have to get involved...
All this to say, I wonder if Jesus was here in this time (being born in our time rather than 2,000 years ago) if his use of the culture and everyday ordinary life situations to describe the Kingdom of God would go something like this:
"The Kingdom of God is like a fairytale kingdom. A kingdom made for happily ever afters, but trapped in a curse when it was attacked by an evil Queen. The Queen banished all the fairytale characters to a world where they forget who the real King is and who they really are. Under the curse no one believes in their King or the Kingdom. Even when the story is told to them they laugh at it and say it is not true, a story for children, a fantasy, a lie. The more the story of the fairytale kingdom is told, the more angry the cursed fairytale characters get. Even when special characters sent by the King are brought into the story to help them believe and to see the kingdom right in front of them they just can't see it because they refuse to believe. But for those who can be brave enough to believe that a kingdom of happily ever afters does exist and there is a King fighting to bring them back to his Kingdom, their eyes are open to see the truth; the truth of who they are, what they were made for and the Kingdom and King before them. Seeing this truth gives them the courage to claim the happily ever after they were created for."