"In heaven, will God ask for papers?"

Monday, November 7, 2011

We are kingdom builders.

"Never again will they hunger;
   never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,
   nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
   will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs of living water.
   And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’"
                                                                (Revelation 7:16-17)

Friday night I had the great privilege of attending an awards banquet/fundraiser for my housemate's work site, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. Among the awards received that night was one for an "outstanding volunteer" given to a beautiful Catholic sister who volunteers a lot of her time at Las Americas.

In the middle of her being commended for the countless hours she spends at the detention center, where she listens to unbelievable stories of those who have crossed the border and relays them back to the office, the life-giving words of her "acceptance speech" moved me.

Even though Las Americas is not religiously affiliated, and we were sitting in the social hall of a Jewish temple, she was not afraid to voice her faith. Actually, I think she could not have said one word without voicing her faith--it radiated from her. Her words struck me as truth as she proclaimed, "We are kingdom builders."

The type of kingdom building the sister was talking about has nothing to do with "saving souls" or with adding another tally mark to the list of lost souls saved in your church's registry. The type of kingdom she was talking about was a kingdom that fully incorporates every earthly and bodily aspect, as well as every emotional and spiritual aspect of the world. A kingdom that will fully transform our world, but a kingdom that can only come about with our active participation.

Jesus constantly spoke of the "kingdom of God" throughout his ministry. But I feel that too many Christians hold a narrow view of this "kingdom" as some mysterious, in-the-clouds thing. The kingdom is often defined as the future state of the earth (and all the universe) that will come with the second coming of Christ. But this definition, I fear, has led many Christians into apathetic lives that distance themselves from the here-and-now world. If the coming of Christ is the only way to bring about this kingdom, then what do we need to do besides wait for that to happen? With their focus on what's to come, many Christians preach an exclusive message that is solely focused on a future kingdom and fail to recognize the kingdom-less reality of the world around them.

In my class, we have been talking about having a "reformational worldview"--one that captures all three Creation, Fall, and Redemption. I have learned a good point while talking about this three-fold view: if we (humans) were called to be co-creators (God gave Adam privileges of continuing the Creation process by naming the animals, tilling the earth, multiplying) and we were the primary actors in the Fall, then why won't we be co-redeemers or even primary actors in the Redemption of our world? We as Christians cannot deny the idea that Christ is the only one who can fully redeem creation, but who says Christ is going to do it alone?

We are living in a world of "already, but not yet." Christ has already come once--giving us forgiveness of sins and a promise of eternal life. But the new "kingdom" he often spoke of has yet to arrive. I believe that Christ is calling us to be "kingdom builders" in our world...helping to co-redeem this lost and fallen world. Through our work, our words, our relationships, our passions, our hands, our peacemaking...we are kingdom builders, living by the hope of a Christ who has already promised eternity. Now we get the responsibility to make this world our own by joining Him in these efforts of building this kingdom where "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Even though we cannot do it all, we can still do something to make God's kingdom come.

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..."

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