Sitting here in my office watching the rain. My mind is whirling with thoughts of God. Racing, is more like it. As a speaker/teacher, whether I’m dealing with acting or with scripture, one fault of mine is that I want to tell it all, all of it at once. I am a macro thinker, looking for long lines of thought and experience that create full structures. I am convinced that our origin, identity, and destiny lies with God and His reality, His Kingdom, His paradigm. Scripture is obviously given to us to help us discover those realities, and yet we see a religious world fragmented almost beyond belief, each group defining these realities with both subtle and glaring differences. Denominations are there because they believe different things about the life of God’s Kingdom on Earth. Who is right or wrong doesn’t concern as many people as it used to, and yet, these are deeply practical matters. Yes, grace is everything, we live and move and have our being by grace, and grace alone, but where does this grace lead us today? Today, I must relate to this God I worship, and to Christ and His Spirit, and to my fellow human beings on the planet, and there are so many questions to ask and debate: what is this God of mine like? What is His character and will? Can I know His character and will, and if so, how? Why isn’t scripture simpler, more plain, more like the “instruction manual for life” people claim? (It is frankly like no instruction manual I ever saw. If my new audio interface box had come with an instruction manual like the Bible, I would still be trying to turn it on.) Why did God make us? Why did we fall? Didn’t God know we would? Why put us (and Himself–not to mention Jesus) through it? To what end? Isn’t it wild that life across generations and cultures and continents is so varied and mixed and colorful and outrageous, but we sit in our little cubicles (if we’re part of a group lucky enough to have cubicles) and try to discover just the precise formula for life with God?
Jesus came to announce what he called the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God. The terms came to mean different things to different people, but I tend to see them as a unified term referring to life with God in the now and the not-yet, along the lines espoused by Willard, Foster, Brueggemann, and Peterson in the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. All the niche Bibles drive me a bit batty, but because I know the work of these editors, it made sense to me that they would put together something like this. Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy continues to inspire me. His basic premise is that the Kingdom of the Heavens (Willard’s translation) is for the now, and that we mostly do not experience life in the Kingdom as Christ and the disciples did because we do not live as they did, nor do we preach and teach that we should. Sort of an outrageous claim, but one that rings true in both my head and my heart.
If you’re a praying type, pray for me this week as I prepare to speak. I know…I take these things far too seriously, or at least take myself too seriously. I am often accused of it. I often accuse myself of it. But still, to stand in front of several hundred of God’s people, all of them having staggered into church with all manner of need and hunger, and to attempt to allow God to speak through me to them…it seems a holy thing to do. And as I stare into the light that is God calling to us–His scripture, His treatment of me over the years, thoughts that I ascribe to Him as they travel into my mind, His word to me through actions and words of others–it mostly occurs to me how sinful and incomplete and ridiculous I am. Moses said, “Who, me?” Jonah ran for his life. I understand both responses.
Anyway, going back to the first few lines of this post, I can’t tell it all at once. God help me just tell what He has given me to tell–His holiness, His love, His power to live, all foundational to our life with Him, His Son, and His Spirit in the Kingdom of the Heavens.