Have you ever wondered what God has to do with it all? Wondered why, for example, doesn’t God heal this hurting world or answer the prayer of our hearts? Every time we pray the prayer Jesus gave us, we pray ‘thy kingdom come.’ Have you wondered why didn’t Jesus simply come as a powerful political leader? God is both apolitical and at the same time entirely political. Many of us have been raised to think of the Kingdom of Heaven as a place we go when we die, when we finally get to be with Jesus “for real.” We are still looking up, but that isn’t where Jesus is, nor where the kingdom is to be found.
Jesus came to help us see more clearly—not to see God through the lens of our party affiliation and our own preconceived notions—but rather to see the world through God’s lens. When we allow God’s view to permeate our vision—Jesus called this way of seeing the Kingdom of God—it changes how we see everything. Jesus refuses to be co-opted by a political party and used as a weapon against the other side, because in God there is no other side! We don’t build the kingdom of heaven nor make it, rather we are invited to choose to participate in it every single day. The main reason we miss it, Jesus says repeatedly, is due to our spiritual blindness—how we view God impedes our ability to see and experience his reign.
In his book Choosing the Kingdom, scholar John Dally reminds us that over and over the New Testament authors offer a central proclamation that “in Jesus, God was present in history offering an alternative to human notions of power and destiny and forcing a choice of allegiance…a ‘krisis’ (judgment) that they greet with joy…that is a perpetually available choice afforded human beings to discern the action of God in history and choose to embrace it or walk away from it.
In the midst of our hurting world, we see evidence of people choosing this kingdom—choosing to see it, to participate in it and even to embody it. We know the difference it makes when people embrace love over fear, respect over violence or trust over power. We pray for eyes to see the alternative worldview God is offering in this moment, coming back to be re-grounded in God’s desire for us as witnessed in Jesus. As Cynthia Bourgeault reminds us: you don’t die into the kingdom, you awaken to it.
As a community, we commit ourselves, in the words of our identity statement, celebrating God’s love for all, seeking to embody Christ in the world. We commit ourselves, in other words, to kingdom living, to waking up to see as God sees. This fall there are many opportunities to open ourselves to seeing God’s kingdom in the midst of our lives as we continue to deepen into our identity statement—through our liturgy and teaching, through our interactions with one another and the world beyond these walls. Jesus invites us to see through his eyes, the eyes of Love, and to let our concrete actions in the world flow out from there.
Hope to see you Sunday,