Kingdom...Now?

I've dealt with a lot of death over the last few years.

Over the last few years, my mom and dad both passed away due to illnesses that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Over the last few years, my oldest sister Karen died from complications due to another nasty disease.

If you've been near situations like these - you know how utterly sad they can be. Just how do you deal with such a thing - how do you make sense of it?

The only place I can go with this reality (the reality of the brokenness and evil and sickness and heartache and death in the world) is back to my fundamental worldview. I have to reason this stuff out from that basic position.

The story of my worldview goes something like this:
"The Judeo-Christian worldview proposes that God made the world and its inhabitants to be his family (ultimately, his kingdom). At first, there was no sorrow, no heartache and no death to deal with.
But people very soon decided to break their agreement (covenant) with God, and did so repeatedly such that sorrow, heartache and death were the natural results. In no time, the earth was full of these.
God then communicated more specific details of the agreement to bring mankind back into his kingdom. For awhile, it appeared that those people to which he was speaking (the nation of Israel) would rise to that occasion, and ultimately be the vehicle through which the entire world would be brought back into the original utopian state.

But alas, it was not to be - for those people also chose not to abide by the agreement. Exile from the kingdom was the result.

God then said that he would act to fix the entire situation by fundamentally changing the equation, changing human nature by placing his spirit inside people and by placing the details of the agreement inside them, rather than leaving those details as a set of external requirements.
The kingdom would be re-established, the earth would be rejuvenated and ultimately death would be removed as a factor on the earth.

This was all to be accomplished by Messiah, a mighty king that would bring this judgment and justice to the entire world.

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth (born, died and resurrected in the first century) is that Messiah. Jesus proved that he was master over sickness, death and the natural world (earth and elements) via many miraculous events.
He proved he "has the goods" to be Messiah, especially via his resurrection.

The rest of the story states that Messiah will return and complete the renovation of the earth that was inaugurated during his first visit. At that time, sickness, death, war and the ravages of injustice that plague the world will be dealt with conclusively.
He will resurrect all people, either to membership in his eternal kingdom, or to "non-membership" (clearly an unpleasant proposition) based on their position relative to the covenant agreement during their lives.

Thus, God's original plan for the earth and its inhabitants will be fully realized."
So all you Christians out there - isn't this the story we all pretty much believe? Of course it is! For the rest of you - it sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it?

I know - it's easy to write such a story off as the wishful thinking of ignorant peasants.

But I choose to believe it. But what about all the death my family's had to deal with lately?

Consider this.

What if sickness and death were reversed every time we prayed "really hard" or said just the right words to God in just the right sequence, or went to church 24/7 or gave 10%+ to the church - or when we believed with allllll our hearts?

What if any behavior of ours could bring miracles with any regularity? Well, then the Kingdom, in its fullness, would be now!

Do you see the silliness of believing that there is some magical combination of words, actions and lifestyle that will bring miracles regularly? Miracles absolutely must be rare in this period before Messiah returns!

Miracles, by their very nature, cannot be commonplace. If miracles were commonplace, we would be living in that Kingdom we described above - the Kingdom which we are waiting on Messiah to bring!

Friends, the book of Revelation tells us that the Kingdom we've been describing is not going to fully exist until Messiah returns! Of course, you are free to hold whatever view you like, but I think you'd be wise to consider it against the Christian worldview story we all agreed to up above.

I believe Messiah Jesus will one day make everything new and fix Death once and for all. And as for today, I believe God does all kinds of miracles. But I believe that they are rare for good reason.

That is, we must wait patiently for Messiah to appear, resurrect his followers and judge the sinful world. His removal of sin will ultimately remove Death from our world.

So don't lose your faith if God doesn't heal today that person you've been praying for. He's promised to work everything out for good in the end!

What do you think?

2 comments:

Lowell said...

Thanks Mike, recent conversations I've had with my agnostic/atheist friends always seem to go back to suffering and death.

Mike said...

Yes, while I suppose we can choose to blame God for just about anything and everything - we should read the whole story, and understand that the story says he will fix everything at the end of this age.

While I certainly understand the pain of losing a loved one, or the suffering of a debilitating illness - to expect everything to be fixed "now" ignores the "not yet" aspect of Christianity, and changes the Christian story into something it wasn't meant to be.

Thanks for the comment Lowell!