The Kingdom of Heaven

I mentioned on Monday that repentance and the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven were both items of good news, and I suspect many of the regular readers of this blog agree with me.  However, I’m not stupid.  I’m not so “head in the clouds I’m not earthly good” minded to think that the vast majority of the world has been so abused by religious zealots that anything remotely resembling a call to repentance is cause for immediate Facebook unfriendship, but I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t done the same damage to the image of the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are most certainly bounded by our inability to comprehend the spiritual realms, but we’ve worked so hard to make heaven sound like this

that we’ve totally missed the point of the Kingdom.  See, it isn’t about streets paved with gold, flowing with milk and honey, with a mansion complete with halo and harp for every believer, where we spend our days singing praises to God so as to keep us from dancing, drinking, or having sex.

No, the Kingdom of God is about something so much better than that.  In the 25th chapter of Isaiah, the prophet attempts to paint a picture of hope for a people in bitter despair.

Isaiah 25:6-8  6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.  7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations;  8 he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

In this vision of the Kingdom there is

  • food
    • plenty of food for everyone
      • plenty of dang good food for everyone
  • wine
    • lots of wine
      • lots of the finest of wines
  • a full experience of the unimaginable love of God
  • a place where there is no fear of death
  • a place where relationships are perfect
  • a place where there is no guilt,
    • no disgrace,
      • no mistrust,
        • no anger
          • no tears

That, to me, sounds like good news.  A heck of a lot better news than gold streets and Gregorian chant.  Why?  Because that Kingdom can happen today.  As disciples of Christ, we can work to create a world where there is plenty of food and drink for everyone, where people are loved and respected as children of God: no matter what; where death isn’t feared because of the certain hope of the resurrection, where relationships are built on agape (self-giving love) rather than self-seeking, where we work to allay guilt, disgrace, mistrust, and anger.

With God’s help, that kind of world is available to us today.  That’s good news.

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