Kingdoms

“God loves, therefore I am.”

Descartes had it wrong. His experiment was a search for God from within his own limited perspective and skepticism. It led him to the statement, “I think, therefore I am,” which is a godlike statement declaring independence from anything outside himself. It claims authority to name and define the universe. It is a modern philosophy of the human will. To be fair, Descartes went into his experiment believing he could make a compelling argument for God. But Descartes’ god was conceptual, not revelatory. His god did not save. His god was like all other gods imagineered by human hearts. His god did not lead to freedom from the bondage of sin and into the arms of the Triune God.

Descartes was the father of modern philosophy. The world that emerged out of its skepticism and emancipation from God’s revelation named, objectified, produced and consumed in its Darwinian quest to create a utopian kingdom. Man became his own god and believed he could usher in a new millennium of prosperity and progress. But the atrocities of the early twentieth century put an end to the notion that man was his own Savior. At the heart of the modern movement (and its child, post-modernism) is the elevation of man as an individual contract-making entrepreneur creating his own kingdom. Dependence is anathema to this philosophy. Interdependence slows it down.

In his post “Producers, Consumers and Communers,” Paul Louis Metzger said,

We do not exist because we think, produce, or consume. We exist ultimately because we are loved by God. God calls us to be communers—to respond to God’s love by loving God and others in return (Mark 12:30-31).

God’s utopian kingdom is the polar opposite of the one envisioned by our culture. Rather than independence, we are invited to become utterly dependent upon the saving grace of the Father, the sacrificial life of the Son, and the illuminating and transforming power of the Spirit. We are brought into His Kingdom not to contribute our skill-set in an exchange of services, but to become a life-giving member of the communal church. In His Kingdom, unity is lived out in shared experience, shared sacrifice, and love for one another. His Kingdom is held together by the principle of servanthood. Such a community is absolute hell to selfish people, but to those who receive God’s grace in humility, it is life itself.

In the Book of Zechariah, God gives us a picture of the kind of utopia He would have for us,

PlayingThus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. (Zechariah 8:4-5)

It is a place where life can be lived fully and with joy. It is a Kingdom where the streets are fit for the kids and the kids are fit for the streets. There is another description of God’s kind of community in the Book of Isaiah,

No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days… They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. (Isaiah 65:20-22)

It is a place where young lives are not cut short by war and disease, people can grow old in dignity, and the simple justice of enjoying the fruits of a man’s labor is realized. In the ultimate unity that God’s people will experience in the resurrected Kingdom, we are assured,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

The unity we enjoy here is just a foretaste of the unity God has in store for His people. Amen.

About marknicklas

Mark Nicklas is a husband, father, son and follower of Jesus Christ. He is a pastor at Beaverton Foursquare Church and an adjunct professor at Multnomah University, where he earned his doctorate in Cultural Engagement. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Jabbok, this site is a place for talking about the identity of the church with respect to the cultures we live in. You are invited to share the journey.
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2 Responses to Kingdoms

  1. gdueker says:

    Love this statement, “Rather than independence, we are invited to become utterly dependent upon the saving grace of the Father, the sacrificial life of the Son, and the illuminating and transforming power of the Spirit.”

  2. marknicklas says:

    Thanks, Greg. Utterly dependent we are!

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