Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Kingdom of Love

Let's see, last week I announced by determination to post something here every Saturday. And last week I posted something about Biblical obedience, seeing said obedience in the light of the new reality of the Kingdom. Or something like that.

Well I want to go back to that. What I am doing here is reinforcing through reiteration what I believe, and what I hold to be important. I find I must begin with a critique, though, a sense in which I am dissatisfied by the usual Christian talk about matters of faith and goodness. Christian culture seems to be a culture of chatterers and lesson-teachers. We go on and on, don't we?

Mostly it's chatter about being good. Mostly it's advice. There are lots of preachers on the radio, you can listen to them all day if you want, and that's not to mention the Internet of course, but all of them all the time are talking talking talking about being good. Do people really listen to this stuff from day to day and week to week and year to year without even growing a little bit tired of it all?

Well, then here I am, adding to the babble. Can't help myself, I guess. But I want to mention just a few things as a way of explaining what in my opinion most of these talkers are missing.

First, the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is here.Has come. Is at hand. That is the great world, the great and overarching new reality that came with Jesus. When he turned water to wine, it was a Kingdom thing. When he told the woman at the well everything about her life that utterly defined her, that was a Kingdom thing. When he healed lepers and lame folks, those were Kingdom acts. And when people who once had hard hearts, like Levi the tax collector, now somehow acquired a soft heart, a heart of compassion, just from being around Jesus and listening to him and watching him, that was a Kingdom transformation that was foreseen by the prophets of old.

The Kingdom is not the same old same old. It a new thing, utterly unlike the way of the world. And yet, some miss it. Some never notice, never see. The Bible again an again returns to this phenomenon, the phenomenon of a Kingdom that has arrived, is knowable, touchable, and yet all has not arrived in such a way that the whole world is utterly convinced.

The Kingdom is a Kingdom of love, first and foremost. Not of miracles, not of chatter, but of Christ-like love. So here is the thing I'm at pains to say: the reign of God is a reign of love, and those who become citizens of that Kingdom are a people of love, loving God and neighbor in such a way that it actually shows them to be aliens in this here workaday world of oppression, fear, jealousy, selfishness, and strife.

To talk about obedience in any other way than as a way of love is to misdirect our energy and lead us down a tragic cul de sac. Really, it is not about whether you're still cursing or not, or whether your drank too much last night. It's now and not yet, this Kingdom, so your heart of stone is still in play, I'm afraid. It's a frustrating reality, sometimes, and sometimes we're mean, we Christians, and harsh and hard-hearted, just like everyone else.

But here's the deal. If we are aliens here and citizens of this alternate Kingdom, then we're being transformed. Our hearts are getting softer, and instance by instance, as we have opportunity, we're learning to love one another and to love God. Not yet with our whole hearts, I'm afraid (we often lie to ourselves and to others about this), but with hearts being transformed by the unstoppable grace of God.

Come play in the fields of grace. That is the invitation of Christians to the world, or should be. And then show them how it's done.

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