Monday, January 04, 2010

Living with an eye to the future

I’ve been struggling some with wondering why there doesn’t seem to be more Kingdom-mindedness in the Church. I long to see more people sold out for their faith, living radically and sacrificially, and it just seems that many are content to merely get by, to sporadically be excited about God and then not.
It’s so hard to live with an eye to the future; to truly believe that there is a heaven; to believe that there is this thing called “the Kingdom of God” that is both here already and at the same time is not yet here. Everything in our culture, and in our natural instincts, tells us that the way to have the best life is to do what is best for you and for your family and to give the leftovers (if there are any) to others. We tend to live in fear of not having enough, whether that is not enough significance, money, respect, rest, etc., and so we spend much of our time with making sure that we don’t lack in any area.
And yet this life on earth is a mere blink of an eye; the Bible calls it a breath. Christians believe that we will spend eternity with God in perfect peace and happiness and love, and our theology says that the most important thing about a person is whether or not they are a member of God’s family, recreated as His child through the life of Christ. But at the same time, heaven seems so abstract, and the idea of being under the reign of a King and Kingdom just doesn’t compute in our democratic mindset. And so the future that we live for tends to involve our 401K more than the treasures Jesus urges us to store up in heaven.
How do we shift our mindset; how do we learn to live as though this life is temporal, the Kingdom eternal? John tells us how in chapter 13 of His gospel when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. In verses 3-4, John says, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; SO (emphasis mine) He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing…. and began to wash His disciples’ feet.”
Jesus knew some things that are critical for living a life of sacrificial love, a life with the Kingdom in view. He knew who He was. He was God’s son and all things were His. He knew where He had come from. And He knew where He was going. Those things freed him in the present from having to grab significance for Himself and led Him instead to serve others.
Too many Christians do not know who we are or whose we are. We do not live like we know where we are going. We need to remember that we are sons of the King and partners in His Kingdom building, bringing the shalom of God more and more fully on earth. We are beloved by God and have been brought to fullness in Christ, and we have fullness to give away to others. And we have an eternity of rest, joy, and peace awaiting us, a home that we will not have to work to upkeep. I pray that we would more and more learn our identity and our final destination, so that we might take up the basin and towel in the present, not withholding our time, money, or love from God and others.