Here it is:
The Kingdom of God.
I didn’t grow up hearing that phrase bandied about. Ask me about prevenient or sanctifying grace and I’ll give you a textbook answer – good little Methodist that I am. Sure, I’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer thousands of times, saying “…thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” But, the concept of ‘The Kingdom of God’ was not overtly discussed in my childhood Sunday School classes. And that’s pretty significant when Sunday School encompasses the full extent of your formal(ish) theological education.
Then again, a textbook answer is hardly ever as interesting as a practical one. Nor is a textbook answer necessarily truer. So, what I can tell you about the Kingdom of God? I can tell you what I believe to be true about the Kingdom of God right now, however, that’s not to say that I won’t change my mind tomorrow.
I believe that we can catch glimpses of the Kingdom of God today if we look closely enough. The Kingdom of God is present when a newborn baby curls her hand around your finger, when a homeless mother is treated with dignity and respect at a job interview, and when a starving Somalian is given more than enough food to eat. The Kingdom of God is present in a hug at the end of a hard day, and in encouraging words from people you respect. We catch glimpses of the Kingdom of God in those instances in which we realize and remember that God is indeed here with us in our humanity.
Glimpses of the Kingdom of God, however, are merely that – glimpses. It is my distinct hope, though that Kingdom of God can indeed be fully realized one day.
It may not be fully realized today, tomorrow, or even in the next hundred thousand years – but I have hope that it’s possible. I have to hope. In a world that is marred by things like war, disease, abuse, and hunger, I have to believe that the Kingdom of God is a real possibility. There can be no alternative.
I have to believe that one day our children will be born into a completely good world, that we all will be treated with respect and dignity, and that we all will have enough food to eat. I have to believe that every one of us will be held in a hug when we need it most, and that none of us will be subject to jeers and disparaging remarks. I have to believe that wars will one day cease, that hunger and famine will end, and that disease and abuse will be no more.
I have to believe that the Kingdom of God is fully possible. I have to believe that we as humans and we as Christians are, as John Wesley puts it “traveling on toward perfection” and that within that perfection lies the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is – quite simply – my hope for our future.