Whenever we put legs on biblical doctrine, look out for the pendulum effect. The pendulum is what it is – that thing which swings with equal weight in both directions.
I have had some conversations this weekend flowing from what I mentioned in my first post and the email that I sent out TELLING/MANDATING/HOPING I’d get some takers to read my blaaahg… it was the idea that when Jesus taught on prayer (Matthew 6:9-10), he taught his disciples (Sermon on the Mount) to pray not so much for the kindgom of heaven to be in heaven, but for the kingdom of heaven to be manifest on earth. Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. When? Now. Where? Wherever on earth we presently are as agents of his kingdom.
Trying to apply the grace-renewal butt-kicking that I received at the GCA churchplanting conference, yesterday in a men’s group I asked a ‘conference question’ that had earlier been turned on me: If you were to wake up on Monday morning and the Kingdom of God had come to earth in fullness (as we are to pray for)… how would our places of work and culture and communities look different?
I imagined a discussion of hope and prayer and longing for the kingdom of grace and mercy to eradicate injustice… for the kingdom of reconciliation to bring marriages back together… for the kingdom of truth to conquer the uncertainty of relativism… for the kingdom of tearlessness to replace tears and mourning and brokenness… for the kingdom of the KING of glory to be visible rather than the world of idolatry where we watch our friends and neighbors and coworkers (and selves) bow and then crumble before the idols of success/materialism, etc… IN SHORT, I imagined a non-technical, most certainly non-eschatological, vision session where we began to long for Jesus’ prayer to be answered THIS week right here in the Lehigh Valley.
Then the pendulum started swinging. First in the direction of heaven being only in heaven and totally separate from this world. Then in the direction of how WE must be the DOERS of the kingdom if we would ever see it here (not untrue about our role as ambassadors, but certainly not the same as longing for GOD to do something by his SPIRIT way bigger than your and my DOING of his kindgom in our neighborhoods/workplaces/etc.). Then there was the whole eschatology bit… NOT GOING TO GO THERE.
Then I watched what happens when the pendulum swings IN textual gospel-community. Through gospel conversation we finally began to talk about that divorced coworker – what would his life be if he experienced the fullness of the kingdom of Christ HERE and NOW? He would be reconciled to his wife through forgiveness ground in Christ. And so on and so on and so on… ’till we were longing for the kingdom to be on earth – in our very present places of existence. It was finally a time of corporate non-technical but BIG theology dreaming! The weed started to tumble till (I hope) we were able to say with a clearer vision: Come Lord Jesus come… bring heaven to earth through your gospel of redemption.
SO all that to say this: Why IS it so unnatural to long for heaven on earth? Maybe its because we have been thinking the wrong thing while praying the Lord’s prayer. It is NOT: Thy kingdom come in heaven (in the future when all who are in Christ will be there) as it is in heaven (now). Rather it IS: Thy Kingdom come on earth (now) as it is in heaven (now). Come Lord Jesus come.