Commentary
By Joe Kay 5-21-2018

We’ve seen two conflicting versions of Christianity at work on the other side of the world recently. One presents us with a God who is indifferent to the world’s suffering; the other shows a God who is passionate about healing us today.

One portrays a future-tense God. The other brings us the God of now.

Last week, Evangelicals celebrated a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which they interpret as a step toward Jesus returning to Earth and establishing the kingdom of God. They await a yet to come world order in which they’ll be favored while others are vanquished.

Strikingly, these Evangelical leaders made no public statements about what was right in front of them. They offered no words about the inhumane conditions their Palestinian brothers and sisters endure. They made no attempt to heal the fighting or bring justice to the situation.

Their God isn’t hearing the cries of the Palestinian people and neither are they. Maybe someday their God will care enough to intervene.

But not now.

That’s one version of Christianity.

We heard a different version preached at a royal wedding on Saturday. An African-American bishop quoted scriptures and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., during a stirring reflection. Bishop Michael Curry reminded us that God isn’t a distant deity ignoring our world. Rather, God is passionately working in this very moment to establish a new world order.

Present tense, not future event.

God is trying to enlist us as co-workers in this divine transformation project. God is changing the world through the hands and the hearts of you and me.

Curry channeled Jesus’ passion for this ongoing reconstruction project. Jesus promised his beloved followers and friends that he would never leave the world — he’s always right here with us.

Present tense, not future event.

And he promised to work with us to continue challenging, loving, and healing the world — just as he did. He made this the sole litmus test of being a follower. We stop to help whoever is bleeding by the side of the road. We love one another, especially those who need our love the most — and yes, our enemies, too.

We do this because we’re working with a God who is never content with suffering or injustice, never deaf to any cry for help, never satisfied with the status quo.

The kingdom of God — a place that operates by God’s values of love, compassion and healing — isn’t a future event, either. Jesus taught that it’s already here in our midst, and it’s up to each of us to establish it more fully.

This kingdom that has no borders — no one is a foreigner to God and nobody is classified as royalty or commoner. Instead, everyone is a servant to everyone else.

It’s a place of un-brokered love, audacious peacemaking, and unabashed justice. A place where everyone is treated as an equally beloved child in all respects. A place where diversity is recognized and cherished as the Creator’s handiwork.

Our hearts are the entrance to this already-present kingdom. Love is the only weapon we carry. Service is the price of citizenship. Kindness is the only currency exchanged.

This kingdom isn’t going to be enacted by a building relocation in Jerusalem; it’s already here, and we’re invited to grow it.

Present tense, not future event.

Bishop Curry reminded us of the blueprint for this divine work in progress:

“Imagine our world when love is the way.

“No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that.

“Poverty would become history in such a world as that.

“The earth would be as a sanctuary in such a world as that.

“We would treat one another as children of God, regardless of differences.

“We would learn how to lay our swords and shields down by the riverside to study war no more.

“There would be a new heaven, a new earth, a new world. A new and beautiful human family.

“The very dream of God.”

Joe Kay

Joe Kay is the associate minister at Nexus United Church of Christ, Butler County, Ohio. He also writes a weekly blog at https://joekay617.wordpress.com. His email address is listed on the blog, in case you care to contact him directly.

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