So this post is a bit more abstract that usual. (That’s a warning if you’re not into abstract stuff!)
But the more I read the scriptures, the more I’m convinced that Jesus wants our land…and the neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states, and countries that are on the land.
He wants people too for sure. He’s after restoring broken relationships –with himself and others–, adopting people into God’s family, making people right through his cross and resurrection. Humans are definitely the pinnacle of God’s creation and please don’t hear me say otherwise. But we can’t stop with people….Jesus wants his land back too.
Here are a couple glimpses into this in the scriptures….
The Garden in Genesis – Adam and Eve were given a job…make the rest of the earth, all the land, look just like the garden. They were we supposed to be master gardeners, excavators, builders, architects, and environmental stewards. They were the societal planning committee. But that all went south with their rejection of God as king.
The Lord’s Prayer – “Father…let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus could have said “let your kingdom come in people…” But he didn’t. Jesus wants the kingdom of heaven to be intimately intertwined with the physical space of the earth.
The New Earth and New Jerusalem – The closing chapters of the scriptures show a renewed planet…not a bunch of disembodied spirits. I remember sitting a The Purple Steer, a family restaurant near me, with my wife and a friend who isn’t a follow of Jesus. We were talking about this picture of the end of history. (Or the beginning, depending on how you look at it). He was shocked. He was used to the Christian image of people floating around with harps in heaven. He thought what we were saying sounded more like a sci-fi movie. Indeed it does.
I think this has huge implications. Here are just a few:
If you are not a follower of Jesus yet, much of how you understand Jesus’ message from churches and TV “preachers” is probably twisted. Jesus is about restoring all thing–our inner selves, our relationships and the actual world around us. His message is just simply not about going to heaven when you die.
If you are a follower of Jesus, how much of your time and effort goes into seeing God’s kingdom come in the physical world? In an age of entertainment media, online connectedness and social media, I fear that we have lost sight of what God is up to…redeeming and restoring all things. If Jesus’ followers are spending much of their time connecting with people they rarely see in person (some online social media) and amusing themselves in worlds that don’t exist (TV and movies), how can we say that we are joining God in mission?
Lastly, I believe the church, the ecclesia, is intimately connected to physical space…to neighborhoods, towns, counties, regions and countries. Perhaps one reason the “gates of hell” ARE “overcoming the church” is because the “local church” is simply not the ecclesia anymore. Groups of followers of Jesus need to re-orientate themselves around physical geopolitical boundaries for the sake of seeing the kingdom of God “come on earth.”