My last blog was about nationalism and racism and how the future is effected by them. When we look at the world we could be very gloomy. But basically I am an optimist because I believe the ultimate future is what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus taught us to pray in what is called “The Lord’s Prayer”, he says we should pray:
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10 NIV)
When we use those words we are asking God to rule on the earth in the same way that his will is always done in heaven. In fact we are firstly asking God to rule in our own attitudes, words and actions. Then we are asking God to extend his rule over the whole of humanity. But the way God rules is very different from the way earthly dictators have power over the citizens of their country.
What is a Kingdom
A kingdom is the area and people ruled by a king. In the modern world, the idea of a country being under the absolute control of a King or Queen is rather out of date. Centuries ago Britain’s kings had absolute power and thought they had a ‘divine right’ to rule. Today, although we have a queen, her rule is primarily ceremonial. A country controlled by a dictator is the nearest equivalent we have today of a kingdom.
In the Old Testament the Israelites originally had leaders and judges, godly men like Moses, Joshua and Samuel. Eventually the people wanted to be ruled by kings but God made it clear that this wasn’t his best for them.
A different kind of kingdom
When Jesus was arrested and during his trial he was asked by Pontius Pilate, “Are you King of Jews?”. Jesus answered:
“My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36 NLT)
Jesus was saying that his kingdom was completely different from a normal kingdom and that the normal rules do not apply. Thousands of ordinary people would have been touched by Jesus but his followers had not been taught to defend Jesus. His kingdom was based on the heavenly rule of love and was not a structure which would compete with others at a material level. Jesus subjected himself to the power of the Roman Empire which condemned him to death.
The Kingdom of God is very different from the way countries are run.
- It is entirely voluntary. God never forces his will on us.
- It is non-violent. God seeks to invite us to let him run our lives without coercion from him.
- It is based upon individuals not organisations or governments.
- It is based on love, not on power or wealth.
Some people view the future through very different eyes. They believe in a time when Jesus will rule the earth with a rod of iron. These views are based upon a limited view of God as seen in the Old Testament. Somehow their view of Jesus doesn’t match up with the way he actually lived and taught when he was on earth.
Jesus came to show us what God, his father, was really like. He taught us to love our neighbour, the foreigner and even to love our enemy. A world based on love is as near as I could define the Kingdom of God. So much of our current system is based on greed, selfishness and power. But we have only to look at families to have hope for a better way of doing things. We see parents making sacrifices for their children. We see the good of the family being more important than the good of an individual.
- Imagine a world where the common good was built into the motives of all its inhabitants.
- A world where people flourished knowing that the resources of the earth were shared according to the needs of everyone.
- A world where people felt secure knowing that others were looking after their interests in the same way as they were doing.
- A world where the trillions of dollars spent on weapons was spent on benefiting us all.
- Simply put a world based on love.
It is not difficult to imagine a better world but it is not so easy to see how we can get there. We are not going to get there by determination, education, passing laws or by better governments.
Let’s go back to the family. In a family love is worked out by seeking fulfilment and happiness for each member. That love is based on relationships: mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter, sister and brother, grand-parents, in-laws etc.
The Kingdom of God is based on relationships.
God the Father, Jesus his Son and the Holy Spirit live together in a relationship of love. The good news is that we are all invited into this circle of love. As we experience the love of God and start to learn to love him too it is only natural for us to love our neighbours and even our enemies. That is the hope we have for the future. I can see a day when men will really experience God’s love and care for their fellow man.
The seed that grows
Jesus often spoke in parables, or pictures, to explain what language alone cannot adequately define.
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13: 31-32 NIV)
A seed has been planted in our world when Jesus came to show us what God is like. It has been growing for the last 2000 years and is visual to all but the tree hasn’t yet reached maturity. When it does the earth will be covered and totally motivated by love. I look forward to that day but also by seeing growth of God’s kingdom in my lifetime. That’s why I am optimistic about the future.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.