Vision for Society
Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka
Christianity is an eschatological faith that seeks the coming Kingdom of God. Deeply rooted in Judaism, Christianity shares the Jewish expectation of a final day of judgment, called the Day of the Lord. On this day, humanity will see God or God's representative, the Messiah, and all injustice will be brought to light in a final reckoning. Once injustice has been exposed and punished, God's perfect justice will prevail. The New Testament writers share this expectation, with the characteristic Christian belief that it is Jesus the Messiah who will return in judgment. On the day of his Second Coming, also referred to as the parousia, Jesus will return not as a poor and obscure teacher, but in glory as a King, and like the kings of Israel, will judge everyone according to their deeds. The world as we know it will end, and the Kingdom of God will be fully realized.
While the final judgment will arrive in one great cataclysmic moment at an unknown point in the future, Christians believe that God also judges them throughout their entire lives. Jesus taught that while the Kingdom of God would come at an unknown time, it is also present in the here and now for those who are ready to take part in it. The Kingdom of God is "at hand" (Mark 1:14), "in your midst" (Luke 17:20), and "within you" (Luke 17:21).
The story of the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis is a central story for Christians, an explanation for the presence of sin, pain, and suffering in a world created by a perfect and loving God. The Garden of Eden is the first covenant, or formalized relationship, between God and humans. God provided Adam and Eve with everything they could possibly need, and all creatures lived in harmony. God asked Adam and Eve to obey one simple rule. When they broke the covenant by disobeying this one rule, God cast them out of the Garden, condemning them and their descendants to a life of pain and suffering, and in need of salvation.
Throughout the centuries, speculations about the precise nature of the culmination or full realization of the Kingdom of God have varied greatly. The core expectation is that the earth will be restored to its original perfect state, and all of creation, especially humans, will enjoy perfect justice and perfect peace. God, the true King of the universe, will rule over all. In anticipation of this time, Christians believe they have been called to a special mission in which they take an active role in preparing for the Kingdom. The Church, as the living body of Christ, is called to embody Christ's ongoing presence in the world. Christians are called to emulate Jesus in their individual lives, to act as Jesus did by loving, healing, forgiving, and reconciling the people of the world.