Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is About Razing Hell--A Lectionary Reflection For Sunday

another good read
"The God Movement is like a jeweler looking for special pearls. When he finds a super-duper one, he goes and unloads his whole stock and buys that pearl." 
Matthew 13:45-46 (Cotton Patch Version)

According to the late Clarence Jordan, this story shows us that Jesus' call is a drastic one, "calling for people to really reshape their lives, their standard of living, their set of values, all the things they had thought were important. Out the door they go for this one, great, consuming passion, the revolution which God wants to usher in on this earth."

We live in a world that appears to be ruled by hell. Everywhere we turn, in Gaza, in Central Africa, in the Middle East, in violent and drug cartel dominated countries across Central America, the suffering and despair are beyond imagination.

Among Jesus' first words as a preacher were "Repent! Undergo a radical, change of life and allegiance! The Kingdom of God is about to break in!"

Citizens of that new, worldwide movement pray every day, "May your will be done on earth (your outpost) as it is in heaven (your headquarters)." Under God's rule they are transformed into those who live solely by WWAD? (What Would Abba Do?).

Jesus' mission, and that of his disciples, is about ending the rule of hell and ushering in the reign of heaven, not just for the afterlife, but starting right here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

What are conditions like where heaven rules? Is there violence where God is sovereign? Despair? Starvation? Homelessness? Pollution? Mass incarceration? Vast disparity between rich and poor?  Persistent suffering and disease?

Of course not. Under God's reign, hell-like conditions are replaced with heaven-like salvation, shalom. God saves and delivers, and under God's rule we share in God's dream of a new and restored creation. And we ourselves are saved, transformed, reborn.

Followers of Jesus can't wait for that new day to dawn. They become an army of peace, agents of hope, demonstrations of a future in which all tears will be wiped away, swords will be beaten into plowshares, and we study war no more.

That reality begins now, begins with us--citizens of God's eternal kingdom.

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

"The American Jesus comes to us rather tamely, tidies up a few bad habits, makes us better citizens, and sends us back into a 'civilization' that is grateful for our good influence. Everything flows smoothly. Christianity seems warm and right to us. There is no comprehensive discontinuity between what we have been and what we are, or shall be. There is no rejection of traditional values, and sadly, there is no entrance into the kingdom of God." 

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