To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like last night's loud party that ran well into the morning in the apartment upstairs from me. Beer flowed. Music blared. Voices were raised in rowdy cheers. Hundreds of young people walked up the front stairs and down the back stairs, chattering merrily. The sound of footsteps overhead never ceased. The roomies who lived there generously appeased their neighbors with bribes of ice cold Budweiser Select. And there was much rejoicing.
Suppose a man wanted to go to that party. Instead of betaking himself to the party, he stayed in his room with the door closed and the curtains shut. He sat in his chair, patiently waiting for an invitation that never came. Perhaps when he finally fell asleep, the man dreamed that he had gone to the party after all.
A second man who wanted into the fun walked up the stairs and stood outside, knocking on the door. Nobody could hear his knocking over the blaring music, the merry chatting, and the rowdy cheers. So he kept standing outside, knocking and knocking. Every so often a group of youngsters would tramp up the stairs and push past him, going right into the party without bothering to knock. This man sneered at them and stayed outside, continuing to do what he felt was his duty as a guest - knocking endlessly, uselessly, hopelessly, until the party was over. Then someone did hear his knocking, and they called through the door and told him to piss off.
The first man is like unto the Enthusiast - or, if you like, today's Pentecostal or charismatic Christian - who expects and demands that the kingdom of God come at his beck and call. And perhaps he dreams that it does so. He trusts in outward manifestations, rather than relying on the generosity of his host. So he remains outside the party.
The second man is like unto him whose religion is founded on works. He sneers on those who enter the Kingdom of God on faith alone, but because his works are of no effect, he also remains outside the party.
The guests who rejoiced and were merry were like unto those who trust in the goodness and lovingkindness of God. They came in and went out as they liked, and the party happened to be wherever they were - though, to be sure, it was loudest and merriest where the greatest number of them were gathered together.