I find myself continually longing for the way things ought to be. Amidst all the drama, disunity, and discord that we experience day in and day out, it’s hard not to long for something better. Does everyone else share these feelings?
I want to ask God if he’ll just give me a hoe and let me go to work in the Garden (Genesis 2.15) (can you picture me out tilling the G.O.E.). Because that’s ultimately what I want: to go back to the way things were in the beginning, where perfect fellowship existed with God and with the rest of humanity. God, take me to that place!
The difficulty, however, is that God doesn’t ever promise that he’s going to remove us from the present and beam us back. In fact, according to the New Testament, God’s already rescued us from the evil that we all despise by way of the cross. But where does that leave us now? For, I find myself, once again, bemoaning with David in the Psalms, asking for vindication from the wicked! If Jesus defeated evil and sin through his death on the cross, and if he confirmed his victory through his resurrection and vindication—having been seated at the right hand of God—why do we encounter evil and hate on a daily basis? Did the “Christ event” really make things better?
I believe it has. The progress can be seen in the fact that the Christ event made possible a new reality—life in the Kingdom of God. In Christ, there exists a new way of life, in which all people are invited to participate in and enjoy (John 12.32). But one has to join in and follow Christ. For, Christ’s followers have been left in charge to serve as the agents of change and redemption for the world. We are to lead people forward into this new life, showing them how to love, as Jesus taught us.
Therefore, instead of being removed from the present world, we are called to actively take part in its transformation, leading people in the way of peace, unity, and love. This is how we move forward into life in the Kingdom of God. This is how we get back to life as it was in the Garden—to the way things ought to be, and the way things are becoming in Christ. Though, obviously, it’s a process.
Why is it taking so long? As I see it, the problem is twofold:
(1) Most don’t truly follow Jesus Christ as Lord. Think about the kind of society that we would have if everyone put the other person’s interests ahead of their own (Matthew 7.12)? Would the world not be a better place if everyone lived according to Jesus’ summation of the Law (Mark 12.29-31)?
(2) Most of us—myself included—seek removal from the present life as opposed to its renewal. We prefer not to deal with people who are “difficult.” But these are the people who need our love the most. I think it’s high time that we put Jesus’ radical love command into practice and start loving the unlovable. If we are to move forward, we must learn to love our enemies (5.43-48). After all, isn’t that what Christ did for us (Rom 5.8-10)?
I very much recognize the difficulty of the task; it’s a real struggle. At times we see the beauty of Christ’s love in action, other times we see the injustices of suffering and evil. These are the growing pains as the Kingdom of God becomes reality.
As we wait for Christ’s return and the fulfillment of redemption, we must, by his Spirit, play our role in making the Kingdom a present reality. Do you think this is possible? Do you believe in such a place?
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6.9-10).