I came across a post on a friend’s blog this week that I deeply appreciated. It reminded me a teaching series I did once where I shared the experience of having my assumptions, based on scripture of course, challenged by someone who suggested that maybe Jesus’ return would not match my expectations and imagination, in much the same way that his birth and ministry did not match the expectations, again based on scripture, of his followers at that time. I have always been haunted by that challenge; haunted in a good way, I think.
Grace’s post expresses how I have felt challenged by this so, so well:
The people in Jesusâ€™ time were convinced that the kingdom Jesus spoke of would be an overthrow of existing powers in their day. They believed the man riding into town on the donkey would be their Dread Champion. And He was and is, but not in the way they expected.
Likewise, the people of today are convinced that the kingdom of God will be an overthrow of existing powers. They believe that the man riding through the clouds on the white horse will be their Dread Champion. And He is and will be, but maybe not in the way they are expecting.
Apocolyptic language typically sounds violent and tyrannical, especially to the ears of those who believe they might be potential targets of this spiritual army. The people who consider themselves part of the army communicate an imperialistic vision of overthrow and theocratic authoritarian power.
Surely Jesus Christ is and will be Lord over all. Yet we can see throughout scripture that His is an alternative kingdom, a kingdom of love, restoration, and wholeness. An upside down kingdom where the poor, the marginalized, the broken, and children are welcomed and valued; yet entrance is difficult for the powerful, religious, or wealthy…
The references to Jesusâ€™ domination and power over his enemies refer to the defeat of darkness, evil, poverty, and pain. The lost are not Christâ€™s enemies. So often the wrath of God, His hatred of sin, is communicated as hatred of the lost. But scripture tells us otherwise, that God loves us while we are still sinners.