Just a few of the “hot spots” in the news this morning. It's hard to see the hurt and pain and suffering around us. We struggle to understand how or why.
When will the Kingdom finally come in all of it's glory and splendor and peace and comfort.
And lions laying down with lambs.
We proclaim it every Sunday. That great mystery of the faith. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
We exclaim that He is Risen. He is King. He is Ruler.
Kyrie Elieson (Lord, have mercy.)
How do we reconcile those truths with the realities of the world around us?
How can we proclaim that the Kingdom has already come when it's quite clear that it hasn't?
There's the tension we live between. This knowledge that Jesus has come. And, with His coming the Kingdom has come. Yet, also, knowing that the fullness of the Kingdom lies in wait. Not yet here. But not so far away. But not all that close. But coming.
Last weekend, we were in Bella Vista, Arkansas with our friends at Highlands Church. In one of the workshops on prayer someone asked about this tension. How to do we reconcile the pain and suffering with the triumph of a Risen King? How do we pray?
At that time, my answer was we simply pray, “Your Kingdom come.” And, then, we work to bring His Kingdom. We stand in solidarity with the poor, and suffering, and marginalized, and hurting, and grieving, and cast out.
We drill water wells in places where people are dying of water-borne illnesses.
We nurse those sick with Ebola back to health.
We give families in Las Flores, Belmopan, Belize sacks of beans and rice and flour and sugar.
We go into the darkest places and proclaim that the King has come and is coming and will come.
And, we pray.
Your Kingdom Come.
When John's disciples came to Jesus in Matthew 11 and asked if He was the Messiah, Jesus didn't offer platitudes or speeches or definitions. He simply said, “The blind can now see. The deaf can now hear. The lame can now walk. The dead live again.”
And, yet, others remain blind, and deaf, and lame, and dead.
Stretched somewhere between Kingdom has come and Kingdom will come.
It's easy–too easy–for Christians to offer words of comfort. “It'll be ok.” “Jesus is with you.” “The world is not my home.” “I'll fly away.”
And, while words of comfort are needed, words of comfort don't stop the bullets or the Ebola or the rockets or the bombs or the suicide.
Last Sunday, our Associate Pastor, Andy Nelms (@anelms), talked about anxiety and the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus in the midst of pain and suffering (you can watch the recording on our church's website). He made a statement that has stuck with me throughout the week.
God doesn't take our anxiety away. Rather, He repurposes it for His Kingdom.
In the midst of our pain, He doesn't airlift us out and make everything instantly better. Rather, He parachutes in and walks alongside us through it. He stands in solidarity with us in our pain and in our suffering and in the ugly of our life and turns it into a means of testimony to His goodness and mercy and grace and faithfulness.
And He calls us to the do the same. Stand alongside those who are hurting. Hold those who are in pain. Cry with them. Laugh with those who are rejoicing. Dance with those who can now walk.
Photos can be to us what parables were to Jesus. A way of illustrating the truths of the Kingdom by painting an image that sticks in the mind of the reader. Something that pops back into our mind's eye when we hear the phrase “Kingdom of God”.
And, in a timing that can only be God, as I was writing this post a friend posted a picture on Facebook of her two girls walking to school together this morning. It's the first day of a new school year. The older has been there and done that. Second grade. For the younger, this is the first time. Kindergarten.
They're walking down the sidewalk hand-in-hand. Older and younger. Old hat and new fears. Peace and anxiety. And, even in the old hat of it all, there lies an element of the unknown. What will be different? Will my friends be there? And, yet, they walk. Hand-in-hand.
Like the Kingdom of God.
Those of us who can walking with those of us who can't.
Everytime we recieve a revelation of the goodness or love or faithfulness or gentleness or mercy of God, we are obligated to share that with others. It's the way of the Kingdom. Giving away what you have.
I've been asked a couple of times in the past few weeks what our response as Christians should be to the challenges of the world around us. I really think it's quite simple. We should grab the hand of the hurting and walk with them. Step-by-step.
Like a second-grader walking to school hand-in-hand with her kindergartener sister.
For, that is what the Kingdom is like.