Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is Kingdom the right word?

Found in Translation, Sojourners Magazine/March 2006

Brilliant article here about the lost power of the metaphor of the Kingdom of God, and a couple other suggested metaphors for what Jesus always talked about.

Here's a couple of snippets, but read the full article(not really that long) to get a better idea of these ideas and to read them in context.

The dream of God. I frequently try to put the prayer of the kingdom (what we often call “The Lord’s Prayer”) into my own words so that I don’t just recite it on autopilot. But I often struggle with how to paraphrase the clause “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Since the language of “will” can take us down a trail of control, domination, and coercion, and since I don’t believe those ideas are in Jesus’ mind, I have looked for other words.

The revolution of God. For people like Martin Luther King Jr., attuned to fighting injustice, corruption, oppression, racism, and other forms of social evil, the “revolution” or “revolutionary movement” of God naturally flows from the metaphor of the dream of God for creation.

The mission of God. The Latin term missio dei has long been used to describe God’s work in the world. Its etymology (the root miss means “send”) reminds us that God sends us into the world to be agents of change: We have a task to do for God. True, there is more to the kingdom than mission; being in relationship is essential to life in the kingdom, so kingdom life is not just doing work. But this metaphor still has great value, as long as we complement it with more relational language.

The party of God. Jesus often compared the kingdom to parties, feasts, and banquets. Today we could say that God is inviting people to leave their gang fights, workaholism, loneliness, and isolation and join the party, to leave their exclusive parties (political ones, for example, which win elections by dividing electorates) and join one inclusive party of a different sort, to stop fighting, complaining, hating, or competing and instead start partying and celebrating the goodness and love of God.

The network of God. A promising new metaphor works with the idea of a network or system. God is inviting people into a life-giving network. First, God wants people to be connected, plugged in, in communication with God, so God can transfer to them what they need—not just information but also virus-debugging software, along with love, hope, empowerment, purpose, and wisdom. As well, each person who is connected to God must become integrally connected to all others in the network. In this way, the network of God breaks down the walls of smaller, exclusive networks (like networks of racism, nationalism, and the like) and invites them into the only truly worldwide web of love. The network becomes a resource for people outside the network as well, and of course, people are always invited to enter the connectivity themselves.

The metaphor of an ecosystem could work in a similar way: We are currently living in an imbalanced, self-destructive ecosystem, but God is inviting us to live in a new network of relationships that will produce balance, harmony, and health. The metaphor of a community works along similar lines. One thinks of theologian Stanley Grenz speaking in terms of “the community of God,” or Dr. King’s preferred phrases, “the beloved community” or “the inescapable network of mutuality.”

The dance of God. In the early church, one of the most powerful images used for the Trinity was the image of a dance of mutual indwelling. The Father, Son, and Spirit live in an eternal, joyful, vibrant dance of love and honor, rhythm and harmony, grace and beauty, giving and receiving. The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God—so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love, vitality, harmony, and celebration. But we humans broke with the dance. We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things. But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of God’s music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and have begun rejoining the dance.

Fascinating, some top ideas for sure.

No comments: