PRACTICING FOR FUTURE OCCUPATION
The Abrahamic Faiths tell us that there was a perfect world that became imperfect through separation from God. The goal of history is to move toward a Paradise where God restores that which was lost. The followers of Jesus rightly conclude that this was Jesus’ mission. For Christians, He is the King of Kings—the penultimate leader of the New World.
The journey and struggle from the Old Earth to the New is one of epic battles and victories. This is our time and there is something beyond that we are moving toward. The Kingdom of God is a destination and a vision that guides us on the slow road we travel. Tolkien’s Middle-earth[i] is an apt picture of the human condition.
As best as we can understand it, Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God on earth. Through history, its presence breaks in like beams of light finding gaps in the clouds. It is here and gone, now and not yet… We trust with good reason that the King is coming back and the Kingdom will finally be joined to the earthly realm.
The challenge to our comprehension has to do with the limited set of tools by which to measure what God is thinking and creating. Without God’s help, we do not get it. God’s Kingdom is not so easily measured by our earthly standards.
Repeatedly, Jesus says the Kingdom is like… Most of Jesus’ models of the Kingdom suggest values and effects that take us to a new frame of reference. It’s larger/smaller, higher/lower, and richer/poorer than what we presently understand. The Kingdom multiplies and permeates everything it touches. An understanding of God’s Kingdom lifts us above the limitations of our polarized views.
There is a city built by God that cannot be compared to any earthly city. Its’ dimensions and qualities far exceed our capacity to create. I would like to take you on a walking tour of the New Jerusalem. When John the Revelator described this place, he gave us a glimpse into God’s heart for Creation. It is a vision that communicates God’s standard of measurement—God’s goal and a set of values that give us direction for how to live here and now.
Could it be that what we see described in the New Jerusalem can be partially experienced now? We may be like children playing with blocks on God’s floor building a world that our dreams live in. We are called to live imaginatively as Kingdom builders. We are ‘practicing for a future occupation’.
If we are to be like children, we need to live as if God is trustworthy and that the future will unfold as He intends. Jesus taught as much when he said,
Seeking the Kingdom—that is our first thing. It is why we pray that things will be here as they already are in Heaven. So how are things in Heaven? What is God revealing in the vision of the Holy City?