Faith in the Kingdom

3 06 2009

Not that anyone reads my blog, but, those who have stumbled upon it, my apologies for taking so long to add a post.

I thought I might share this, it’s something I wrote in a forum post on Beliefnet.com, I might as well also offer it here:

On a personal note, the now-and-yet-to-be kingdom means that right now there is a God active and working in the world. It means that there is a God whose faithfulness to people means that He is continually working, making and creating in me the kind of person that doesn’t just proclaim the kingdom, but lives there.

Because as I move and live and breathe in this world I am a faltering person who continually makes mistakes. As we all do. That He is relentless in His mercy, and unwavering in His devotion and infinite in His goodness toward me, that I can have the sort of confidence to live boldly. Not the sort of boldness with a chest puffed out, but the confident boldness to know that even as I may take two steps back, He won’t let me be out and about on my own. He won’t let or leave me be.

As someone who has often been let down by people, and who struggles to figure out my place in life and this world, to know that there is always ground beneath my feet, hands to catch me, and a God to hold onto me means there is always a tomorrow which I can wake up to.

And despite some people’s protestations, that’s exactly the sort of God I always read about in the writings of St. Paul. That there is this unrelenting love that refuses to abandon anyone, profound in every way, that can embrace and accept the worst of us, the least of us, and the smallest of us.

To discover the strength in weakness, light in darkness, hope in despair, wisdom in  foolishness, and grace in the most unforgiving corners of this world. That’s what it means to me to look upon the cross, and to understand the Man who died upon that cross–who I now call Lord and King. Not only of my own little Jon world, but even the entire world.

That the Crucified Man of Golgotha is truly Lord in whom all things subsist, that the powerful could not best Him, that death could not hold Him, neither could the grave contain Him, that where hate and murder and violence and wonton evil seems to prevail in fact does not. This is the kingdom of God. That a wreath of thorns would be the King’s true crown, and a crucifix His throne. That a coronation took place in open secret, a peculiar majesty shown through frail body and bloody brow.

That it is not the rich man who is lord, but the poor man. It is not the might of sword, nor thunder of chariots; it is not the cannon or the gun, the armies and their generals, it is not kings and potentates, or presidents and despots who are victorious. Neither nation nor empire, neither pomp or splendor, but rather the Man of Nazareth and those He represents who are the victors.

This is the kingdom of God.

That it is not wealth or fame or power that is true greatness. It is not the CEO in his lofty office who has success.

That all these temporal, empty, hollow things are void of substance.

Truly, He says, the prostitutes are reaching the kingdom ahead of us.

This requires a certain kind of faith, the kind of faith that already believes though it has not seen, like the centurion who had every confidence that the Lord merely said the word and His servant was healed.

But so few of us have it. Our confidence is found in the vain things of life, and we imagine success and greatness in things that will be consumed by moths and wind up as dust.

It is not our empires–whether political or otherwise–that shall endure. But love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, joy, charity, and good will toward others. These things are real. Money, power, and empires are not real.

This is faith in the kingdom of God.

It is not in the things we see, but in the things we hope for.

I believe that Christ died, Christ is risen and Christ is coming again, and so I have hope in a world made in the image of Christ, where dead bones will walk again, where every sword will be made a plowshare and ever spear a pruning hook. A conviction for a kingdom where death has been put away and hell forgotten. Where neither mourning or sadness can be found, for in their stead a overflowing bounty of joy and laughter among all. For I believe this is the will of God. And so in that conviction of God’s tomorrow, I believe so strongly that I can step into this world of today in that unwavering truth.

I can lose my faith in guns and guillotines, and open myself up to world that is absent of both. A world filled with God.

This is the kingdom of God

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Christian Revolution

21 04 2008

This page of the Gospel is rightly considered the “magna carta” of Christian nonviolence; it does not consist in surrendering to evil — as claims a false interpretation of “turn the other cheek” (Luke 6:29) — but in responding to evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21), and thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God’s love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Loving the enemy is the nucleus of the “Christian revolution,” a revolution not based on strategies of economic, political or media power. The revolution of love, a love that does not base itself definitively in human resources, but in the gift of God, that is obtained only and unreservedly in his merciful goodness. Herein lies the novelty of the Gospel, which changes the world without making noise. Herein lies the heroism of the “little ones,” who believe in the love of God and spread it even at the cost of life.

– Pope Benedict XVI, Feb. 18th 2007 (source: Catholic Peace Fellowship)