Kingdom of God

Take a moment and read this short piece from Frederick Buechner.

“I have it in me at my best to be a saint to other people, and by saint I mean life-giver, someone who is able to bear to others something of the Holy Spirit, whom the creeds describe as the Lord and Giver of Life. Sometimes, by the grace of God, I have it in me to be Christ to other people. And so, of course, have we all-the life-giving, life-saving, and healing power to be saints, to be Christs, maybe at rare moments even to ourselves.”

This passage tugs at me as I read it.  It comes just after he tells us that he is deeply embarrassed when people tell him that his words, his books, have saved their lives.  I have no doubt that his words have, in fact, grasped people from the grips of despair.  If you haven’t experienced his writings you are missing out on a glimpse of something that is truly life-saving and life-giving.

But I understand why he says that he feels embarrassed.  In our culture we tend to celebrate and set apart personalities.  When those personalities have something important or unique to contribute to the conversation we recognize and reward them for it.  But when a genuine servant of the gospel finds themselves in this position of being the object of one’s salvation, one can imagine that it is a really uncomfortable place to be.  A servant of the gospel knows that the point of sharing the word is not to have all eyes on the servant but to point beyond the messenger and to the cross and the Christ.

In other words, its not about you.  Its not about me.  Its not about him, or her.  But it is about us.  It is about us as the body of Christ.  While we may celebrate the messenger we do so because in the message there is life.  As the body of Christ the messenger is not the only one who is in the life-giving business.  And though we may be bumbling fools most of the time we have been gifted with grace sufficient to lean into the already-but-not-yet kingdom of God.

But here is the question that now sits in my mind; What is our role today as Kingdom dwellers? That we are Christian should be good news for all we encounter.  We too are in the life-giving business. I firmly believe that when Jesus spoke to his disciples at the last supper and said, “do this” that he was speaking about more than gathering together and drinking wine and remembering the good ole times.

The “this” that he speaks of is the witness of his entire life.  A life that was spent breaking down the barriers between who was inside and who was out; A life that was dedicated to overturning the tables in temples and the obstacles in people’s lives; A life that was spent making it known that everyone has worth and that God’s love is for all.

Go and do this – when someone is being treated as less than human

Go and do this – when we catch ourselves being victims of our own greed and temptation

Go and do this – when we become aware of the consequences of our habits and behaviors

Go and do this – when our systems are unjust

Go and do this – when our policies fail our most vulnerable

What would happen if we treated our worship services as a dress rehearsal for how we encounter God’s world?  What if we looked at this time together as an opportunity to be steeped in God’s narrative, one which is distinctly missing from our broader context?  What if we looked at the prayers that we say each time we gather less as petitions to a God who already knows our wants and needs better than we know ourselves, and more as commitments from us to participate in the kingdom love needed to fulfill our prayers.

These are not matters of eternal salvation.  That Kingdom love was expressed in a man who trekked from Jericho to Jerusalem and found himself pierced upon a cross. That kingdom love was expressed by the actions of a man who dared to delve into the ditch of humanity and show us a better way.  But these are matters of life and death.  When you, “go and do this” you will find life.

How could those of us who have been grasped from the depths of despair, the grips of death and found life, and life abundant keep this for ourselves.  How can we not share this life that we have been given?

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