Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?” and I find myself perplexed at the mere thought of the world around me. This world that has been given the charge to become the Heaven-on-earth-kingdom, and yet I find myself thinking like the Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “We’re all mad here!”
Certainly, this isn’t heaven on earth.
Certainly, I’ve followed a suspect hare down its hole and found myself captured in a world that isn’t at all what I dreamed.
I’ve believed the hurry. I’ve believed the hype. I’ve chased the coattails of strangers and fallen down a hole into the unknown.
We’ve been through so much this year as a people, as a church, as a world. We’ve witnessed war and peace, abundance and loss, success and failure, love and hate. Yet when such polarities are vying for our attention, there is no doubt that the chaos of it all threatens to overwhelm us with shouts of victory, eruptions of defeat and visions of rubble.
Before I know it, I can hear the whisper of Alice inside my heart. “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” because I feel very, very lost.
I think we all do in a world whose loudest voices feast on the fruit of evil desires.
We get caught up in it — the combative social media posts, the setting up and tearing down of nations, the addiction to discontentment. Our deep awareness of chaos has stolen our sense of direction.
When you have placed yourself in the eye of a tornado, you may think you hold a sense of peace, but you have absolutely no idea where you are going. You may be untouched, but you are being carried by the violent storm system that has overtaken your world — and it’s carrying you wherever it may. So what do we do about this exactly?
Is There Any Other Option?
Is it possible to see outside the storm, to train our minds to step out of the whirlwind? Can we, as a people, find ourselves with sure footing despite the tumultuous conditions that have invaded our world?
I would suggest that it is not only possible, but it is part of our calling as people of the Kingdom.
Like the rudder of a ship at sea, there is something that will act as clear guidance for our lives if we choose to set our faces toward it.
We Can Live a Different Story
We are not the first generation to be tempted to succumb to the conditions of the natural world. In fact, it is a story that we can find at-odds with redemption throughout the entire biblical narrative.
In the book of Joshua, we find the nation of Israel stuck in the middle of their 40-year wandering in the desert. Was this the initial plan of the Lord? No! God had revealed his heart’s intention to usher Israel into the Promised Land. That was the vision. That was where they were going.
At the same time, He offered specific ways for the people to live their lives in order to see the Promised Land vision come to pass. But their susceptibility to forgetfulness soon took over.
Before long, the revealed Word of the Lord left their mouths, their stomachs became their god, and they became disillusioned on their journey. What should have been a journey of 11 days became a journey of 40 years because they failed to remember the vision.
“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed” (Proverbs 28:19).
Building for the Future
So how can we steward our lives so that we can maintain focus in the middle of a chaotic world?
The people in the Old Testament received a vision that they had to carry for their whole lives: They were promised a Savior who would free them from their bondage to decay. Although the fulfillment of the vision would not come for generations, they did not lose hope. Instead, they “welcomed” the promise “from a distance” and realized that they “were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
They did not wander without purpose. Instead, their “hearts were fixed on what was far greater” (Hebrews 11:16).
Jesus Himself became their vision.
Although they had not yet seen Him face-to-face, they held the revealed promise of Him in their hearts and it changed the way they lived. They were not lost in the pursuit. They knew where they were going, and would do whatever it took to get there.
Abel chose a better sacrifice. Enoch walked with God. Noah built an ark. Abraham left home.
They saw beyond their immediate circumstances and into the reality of the days to come. Against all odds, the vision became the focus of their days and the fuel of their lives. They did something with the vision they had been given, and it changed the course of history.
What Will Be Our Reality?
We have been given the same charge.
In a world moving at hyper speed, we are offered the secret of becoming a people in victory and at peace. The testimony of the ancients was to affirm the reality that clear, long-term vision and subsequent obedience is worth it.
It was. Through this promise fulfilled, Jesus came to earth!
We now live in a different covenant. What they waited for, we have inherited. Their sights were set on Jesus and heaven. We got both.
Through Jesus’ coming, we have been granted access to a new reality that should further change the way we live. Hebrews 12 teaches us that while we are citizens on earth, “We have (also) entered the city of the Living God. All our names have been legally registered as citizens of heaven” (Hebrews 12:22-24)!
Because we are citizens of heaven, we have access to all that it has to offer. We have been given the job to transform this world to look like the Kingdom of God.
And as far as I know, there aren’t any tornadoes of chaos in Heaven.
As we lock eyes with Jesus, I bet we will catch a glimpse of this work, the joy set before us. As we see with His eyes, we will remember the job that we’ve been given and the access we’ve been granted.
There is hope.
With the vision of the Kingdom in mind, we can make steps toward wholeness and peace in confidence knowing that He will complete the good work.
As we work, He reorders. As we walk with purpose toward wholeness, He brings peace. And with this peace, Earth can look more like Heaven tomorrow than it does today.