Jesus teaches us to pray ‘Your Kingdom Come’. He’s the King of his Kingdom – he says it’s near, tells to pray for its coming and in the end will deliver his kingdom to his Father when his kingdom fills the world.
What’s the kingdom like? At the very least, like the resurrected king. Not a state of ethereal, disembodied spirituality. But rather, bodily, located, eating, with colour and music: substantial. Christian faith isn’t against such things or separated from them.
C.S. Lewis explores this in his book ‘The Great Divorce: A Dream’ where he imagines tourists on a bus trip from a hellish place of judgement, Grey Town, a colourless place, where people live further and further away from one another, lacking vibrancy, lacking relationship… And then the they travel to the renewed creation… a place so teeming with life, so substantial, that a drop of water could kill you, that a blade of grass, hard as a diamond, would pass through your ghostly foot as a tourist from this life
If there’s nothing ahead then it probably doesn’t matter what we do today…
If there’s only ‘heaven’ ahead then the blood and guts of life in this world must be unspiritual… the assumption that religion should be like this surely lies behind the common critiques that faith should keep away from having a view on sexuality and other bodily things…
But the Christian faith is too substantial, too physical for that. Resurrection says there’s a substantial future to come, a renewal of all things. And so you can begin to taste something of that now.
Charles Spurgeon called those who belong to Christ, “the happy children of the resurrection.” People who participate in life here. Rather than a “spiritual” detachment from life, there is a thoroughly spiritual physical participation in life to discover. Take the words of two believers in centuries past:
Martin Luther says that you’re barely human if you can’t enjoy music.
Can you stop and listen?
John Calvin said that there is not one blade of grass, not one colour, that is not intended to give you joy.
Can you stop and look, and behold and delight?
Can you stop striving and take in a little of what’s here? To say YES to life here? Our desire for more isn’t entirely misplaced… our appetites aren’t inherently unspiritual – they may at times be misdirected and too easily pleased, but we are sensory, bodily beings in a world intended for our joy.
Yet, also things are incomplete. The story not yet finished. There is tension. There is mess. There is death. There is betrayal. There is injustice. In the end God will give his “no” to this way of death, and so to pray and live ‘your kingdom come’ includes saying “no” as well as “no”.
I was with a Community Group last month. They make time to talk about issues group members are passionate about, so that evening we were reflecting on food waste in our culture. Institutionally and individually. It’s overwhelming. It’s wrong. It’s destructive. I felt convicted. I’m starting to do things differently as a result. But, we simply cannot do everything about it – which is not to say we can’t do something. And the resurrection of Jesus tells me that bodies, and this world, and food, and people matter.
Could you step into a wider, deeper, more far reaching faith? Embrace a richer, more colourful life, to become more engaged with the pain and reality of life, more hopeful, more tearful? Alexander Schmemann said – the tone of life belonging to Christ is both sad brightness and bright sadness. Not blindly optimistic, nor bleakly pessimistic.
In the Bible’s storyline, Jesus is the spark that lights the touch-paper, the first one who gets up to dance, the needle who pierces the cloth, the promise of what’s to come, the firstfruits of resurrection for you.