The New One is not like the Old One

Is the Christian vision of the kingdom of God just another way of talking about the liberal utopia?

Think about what we've been talking about over the last week...
...start by naming your fears
...think globally, act locally
...displace yourself, give up privilege

Isn't there a lot of belief in the power of the individual? in the power of the community? Isn't there a sense that if we all just tried a little harder, got a little more serious, everything would be okay? Isn't there an element of let's just sit in a circle and hold hands with each other and we'll all get along? Can you see this in what I've been writing?

Social justice, apart from the power of God, will not take us where we want to go. The tracks may overlap for a while, but they will differ radically. God is creating a new world, a new kingdom and the New One is not like the Old One.

The kingdom of God that is coming, the kingdom God is bringing into existence through the advance of the church, is a kingdom marked by his power. We bank on his power, do things that don't make sense apart from his power.

That's why we don't grasp for the world's power, by the way. We have power enough already. With God's Spirit dwelling in us, we already have enough power to change the world.

That's also why we make lousy political allies, we Christians. We won't stay on your side for long. You think you have us in your pocket because we agree with you on abortion, but then we say something crazy about marriage or something crazy about immigration or something crazy about the environment. We can't be trusted. We have a power that we can't share with you unless you become one of us. We are exclusive and obnoxious, the power-filled community of God.

When Brenda told us that we must go out in the power of God, she wanted to make sure we heard that the Christian vision for the world, our credible witness, is an apocalyptic vision. God is making all things new. The old order, with its strategies for social change, will pass away.

God is breaking the world through us, mysteriously. I say "mysteriously" because it's hard to see how our living as this new community will bring about the kingdom of God, how it will make any difference. It's hard to see how my praying for my friend Fabian's job interview today brings us any closer to that day when God "will wipe every tear from our eyes." It's hard to see how that offering we collected last Sunday brings us any closer to that day when "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain." It's hard to see how any of my sermons will ever bring us any closer to that day when "the old order of things [will pass] away."

That's why we must go out in the power of God. We don't see how any of this - our life together as the new community - matters to the big picture. But God has his own utopia planned and it will come in the way he desires: by his power. The New One is not like the Old One.

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