Restoration from the inside out
Theologian Cornelius Platinga once described the Kingdom of God as simply "the way things are supposed to be". That simple definition reasonates with me as I read the paper, walk the streets, watch the news, or simply talk to my neighbors. So many times, I hear of senseless violence, grinding poverty, and debilitating hopelessness and my thought is "thats not the way things are supposed to be". That feeling is almost intuitive and it is shared by the most innocent children to our most seasoned elders. Its just not the way things are supposed to be...
Lately, I have been spending time praying about how New Hope (the church I am privileged to pastor in Rochester, NY) can be a catalyst for "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done". If the kingdom is "the way things are supposed to be", what role can New Hope or any of us have in ushering in this new reality in the face of so much pain and suffering. The Kingdom or reign of God is a pervasive penetration of the Love of God into every aspect of our lives, our relationships, and our society. In order to change our current reality into a kingdom reality, it will take nothing short of an act of God working through people who are sold out to sacrificially demonstrating the love of God in a loveless, cruel world.
The reality of our situation is not dark and pessimistic, but bright and uplifting. This is the message of the cross. Jesus Christ came and lived a life of love and through that life, healed, uplifted, encouraged, and delivered people from "things that are not supposed to be". Even death itself could not overcome the life sustaining Holy Spirit (suggesting of course, that death is not supposed to be, but is a manifestation of our own rebellion against God). This is our model and example. Jesus said that we should take heart, as he has overcome the world. We too, take heart, because through him, we overcome everything that the world has to offer.
This morning I read this scripture. I have printed in the Amplified Bible version. It was written to exiled Israelites whose rebellion and rejection of the God and his ways, led to being led away to the nation of Babylon.
And I will vindicate the holiness of My great name and separate it for its holy purpose from all that defiles it--My name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them--and the nations will know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord [the Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service], when I shall be set apart by you and My holiness vindicated in you before their eyes and yours.
The nations will know, understand, and realize the greatness of God and his ways (the way things are supposed to be) when we (the people who identify themselves as people of God) set God apart in our own lives, churches, and communities. This requires that we submit to the working of God in us before God begins to work through us to change what is not supposed to be into what we all know should be. It means no longer accepting religious rites and activities that do not iniate, sustain, or stengthen our expression of the love of God in the world around us.
Will you mediatate on this scripture this week. Let it convict you, encourage you, and compel you to usher in "the way things are supposed to be".
May God bless you,
Pastor M Traylor