Your Kingdom come, your will be done on Earth…
The Other: Postmodern shorthand for anyone differing in any way from “us,” born of the reality that in an era of radical pluralism and globalization, we are constantly confronted with people who are indeed different from us.
Tony Jones, The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
Jesus and the Kingdom, Brian McLaren
Can you imagine a community that is willing to live in the way of Jesus–to live in such a way that radically invites relationship with the Other?
Who is the Other (whom we are called to love)?
Is it the jobless, shiftless young male who is fathering children, but takes no responsibility for helping support them? Is it the unwed teenage mother who is not prepared to sacrifice–the cravings of cigarettes…the late-night vagabond carelessness of youth–to care for a totally dependent baby.
Is the Other the gay or lesbian co-worker? Am I able to see this person as one whom God loves? How do we make visible the love of God as we relate to the Other in this person?
Are we willing to make visible the love of God to the Other? Can we make room for relationship with the Other in our communities?
Can we make room for the single person who challenges the value system and priorities of a communal narrative slanted towards marriage and family?
Can we make room for the person from the Other political party? Can we engage in conversation with them and together seek answers that arise out of a careful reading of the Gospel in the covenanted Community of Jesus?
Can we image a people who allow themselves to trust that God is at work in the world? What would it look like if this people would enter the world looking for ways God is at work–redeeming, transforming? What if we would be willing to look at the whole world–not just the parts that validate our story, our lifestyle, our ideas?
What would happen if a community would be so shaped by Gospel that they could trust God’s Spirit to guide them as they encountered Jesus in the Other–no matter who that person is? What would happen if we acknowledged our fears and insecurities? What if we confessed these fears as shaping the way we engage with the Other?
How would this kind of Community engage with the Other? What kind of people might we have occasion to be in relationship with? What if we could acknowledge the way such a posture would threaten our nice little bounded-set cultures of people who predominantly look like me, talk like me, think like me, vote like me, etc.?
What if we would truly live in such a way that expressed the petition of the Lord’s prayer–that God’s Kingdom would come on Earth as it is in heaven? What if we would truly believe that God’s mission is primarily about the Kingdom of Jesus–the neighbor-serving, peace-making, righteous-acting, enemy-loving, justice-doing Kingdom–coming on earth. That the Good News is not primarily about getting people “saved” so that they can go to heaven when they die…
What if a community would be willing to let the difficult questions be voiced? The ones that are unsettling to our airtight perspectives. What if the way we related to Truth was made visible more by a way of living than by a set of beliefs. A way of living in relationship with the Word made flesh…a way of living among a people seeking to uncover the way of Jesus.
What if Truth seeds were let out of airtight packets–containers? What if truth seeds were allowed to take root in our lives–in whatever condition the soil exists. And then, what if those seeds would scatter inadvertantly as the wind of the Spirit blows through our lives. Can we image that they might sprout and grow in all kinds of places outside the “greenhouse” of “Christian sub-culture”? Do we believe that the seeds of Gospel can sprout and grow amidst the sulferous stench of rusted, delapidation?
What if a community would be willing to wrestle with God, with Scripture, and with each other in such as way that uncovers the essense of truth, love, and community that is present in the life of the Trinity? A community of conversation and inclusion. A community of encounter and manifold beauty. A community of embrace and inclusion–not coercive “power over.” A cosmic community that is inseparably bound to the whole of creation because of the Incarnation.
What if a community was willing to risk loving the Other–seeing the Other as Jesus? How would this kind of engagement with world change us? What if we saw this as central to what it means to be Church?
Can you imagine?