In the last post, I tried to step away from just theological jibber-jabber and really pen some words that made more practical sense in regards to the kingdom of God. In doing so, I stressed that the kingdom is here. It has broken into history and, thus, our lives, and will continue to do so until Christ consummates everything at the end. Such truth gives us hope to continue in steadfastness and pray, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matthew 6:33).
When trials and tribulations and difficulties and hurt and disappointments come, and they will come, we can know that Jesus is still King, still seated at the right hand of the Father ruling over all heaven and earth, and He can move in our situations for His great glory.
While my heart has always been to emphasise this aspect of the kingdom of God, I know it is not the only reality. We proclaim God’s reign and rule on earth as it is in heaven, but when we look around, we can, so many times, see something completely different. This world is very, very broken.
I like crime shows. I think it’s because I am a detail kind of guy and, so, forensics has always been interesting to me. Therefore, I watch a couple of the CSI series and I will frequently try and catch a Criminal Minds episode.
Criminal Minds is specifically about the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit being called upon to solve crimes. The crimes they are usually involved with are those of a more serial, psychopathic nature. By viewing the evidence of the crime scenes and everything else forensically related, they are able to determine what kind of person they are dealing with and how they can best catch the criminal.
This past Saturday, my wife and I watched an episode of Criminal Minds as we enjoyed a very leisurely morning. The plot was that of a husband and wife who had been accused of murdering multiple teenagers. In all of the killings, the most heinous of crimes they were accused of was the murder of their own son. It had been some 12 years since he had gone missing and, knowing the nature of the two, it was all but certain that they had murdered their own son. They were, now, on death-row waiting their execution by electric chair, which was only a few days away.
But, as one of the agents, Gideon, began to dig a little deeper, also having conversations with the wife, it became more and more obvious that she had never actually been an accomplice with her husband in the murders. Even more, though the wife would never admit to such, the light began to show forth to Gideon that the son was still alive.
Gideon spent days trying to convince the mother to confess her innocence of the murders and tell them where her son was. This would keep her from the execution and would also culminate with the reuniting of the mother and son. Such news could only be good news.
Unfortunately, fear would be the factor that would divert her from such a confession. Her decisions were being dictated by such an enemy. The mother was afraid that, if the father found out the son was still alive, he would have him murdered in the end. The fear seemed irrational, since the father was in jail and was being put to death in only a few days. But she was consumed by it.
After the father was electrocuted, the mother was to follow one hour later. Even as she walked down the prison corridor (the ‘green mile’) towards the chair, Gideon was still there holding on to the hope that the mother would let them know where her son. This would be part of the evidence needed to prove her innocence. Yet, she could not do it. She would not budge. Though she was actually innocent, she felt that the stain of her and her husband’s legacy would still be a chain upon the boy’s life.
She asked Gideon to be there with her in the room as she was executed. And, so, the mother walked into room of execution, sat down in the chair, let herself be strapped in and then the switch was flipped. Her life was no more.
When the episode ended, all I could think was, ‘Where was the justice?’ It was right there in her grasp. But she did not want it. I didn’t ask the question in anger but rather out of sorrow and pain. Though it was only a show, my heart was gripped with pain and anguish. This was probably due to the fact that I know these kind of things actually do happen in real life. Tears began to well up in my eyes.
And that is the reality of today. We live in a world that, though it was created good and humans still maintain the image of God despite the Fall, there is so much hurt and brokenness and tragedy. All one has to do to realise such is take a few moments and look around. Our world is riddled with sin, sickness, disease, injustice, ungodliness, pain, hurt and tragedy upon tragedy. Though we have found Christ and His kingdom, we still find ourselves repeating some kind of refrain like Bono: But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
This, my friends, is the reality of the kingdom not yet. This is the reality that we still await a day, that final day when Jesus Himself will step off His throne for just a moment to come and make all things right. It will be a day when all sin is dealt with fully and finally, evil will be conquered, death will be defeated, righteousness will be fully restored and we will feast at the marriage supper.
One very familiar writer stated it this way:
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 21:4)
So, until that day comes life will hurt, life will sting, life will be difficult. It’s not that we are called to have some kind of defeated view about our situations and circumstances. But we are called to consider real life. And real life will mean real hurts and real trials and real brokenness. For those who would ever deny are either deceived or simply not willing to deal with reality. This is why the health and wealth gospel becomes so poisonous. It presents a picture that is not fully attainable in what the Bible calls this present evil age.
Though the strain is still there and the tears still fall, let this be something that pushes us to continue to pray for His kingdom to fully and finally come. Let us be a people that are, in Him, steadfast, enduring, patient and hopeful. Even though the world may teeter and totter when financial crises hit, or a loved one dies, or injustice is served, the people have God can stand upon the solid foundation of Christ and His kingdom.
I have recently found these words of Paul to Timothy quite comforting:
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Let us long for that day, that day when He appears and makes all things right.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)