Signs of the Reign of God?
Do you believe in the reign of God? Tomorrow many Churches will celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Maybe they will sing a hymn such as "Jesus Shall Reign" Consider the opening lines of this Isaac Watts hymn:
Jesus shall reign where 'er the sun
does its successive journeys run;
his love shall spread from shore to shore
till moons shall wax no more.
The hymn holds out the promise of Jesus' ultimate reign, a view that is underlined in Ephesians 1, the text I shall use for tomorrow's sermon.
20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. 22 God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, 23 which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. (Eph. 1:20-21 CEB)
But the question before us is this: Must we wait for "Judgment Day" to see signs of the reign of God in our world? As I contemplate this question I'm in the midst of reading another book on Missional Christianity. This time I'm reading Michael Frost's Road to Missional, The: Journey to the Center of the Church (Shapevine) (Baker, 2011). I'm not finished reading the book, so I'm not ready to write a review, but I'd like to use something from the book to get the conversation going.
The reign of God through Christ is a present reality but also an unfolding one. Heaven overlaps with earth. God's reign is complete. Jesus is Lord. These are irrefutable, nonnegotiable, universal truths, but they are truths we perceive only partially. Their full reality is still mysterious to us. (Frost, p. 103).
One might find some discomfort with the certainty expressed about the truths declared, but the point being made is that the reign of God is present here and now, and elsewhere Frost asserts that the missional calling is to alert the world to this fact. But, then the question is -- what does this look like? And Frost suggests that following N.T. Wright, we should see several things occurring -- 1) restoration of relationships; 2) reestablishment of justice; 3) rediscovery of beauty. The point he makes is that God is already at work bringing this to pass, and we are invited to participate in this work. The question thus is not -- is God on our side, but are we on God's side?
So, as we move toward the observance of Christ the King Sunday, where do we see signs of God's reign in Christ in the hear and now? Where do we see relationships being restored? Where do we see justice being established? Where do we see beauty being discovered or created?