“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. . .” Romans 8:22
On the table in front of me is a vase full of lilies and daisies. I can already see the petals beginning to discolor. It’ll only be a matter of days before this gorgeous palette of colors conforms to the brown of decay.
This is the way of the world—everything falls apart.
Yesterday’s communication is today’s discord.
Yesterday’s peace is today’s conflict.
Yesterday’s emancipation is today’s oppression.
I can think of precious few relationships or possessions that I’m not constantly maintaining.
Midwives of the kingdom
There’s a time coming when God’s kingdom will appear, and it will be seem like it materialized out of nowhere. But the truth is that we—the midwives of the kingdom—have been delivering it since Pentecost.
We’re not here to create a better version of this world, to reform its systems, or to become its largest special-interest group with the goal of redeeming it through the right legislation.
We’re the kingdom in utero. We’re a holy city in its most vulnerable state.
Swords into plowshares
The appeal of the kingdom isn’t in its arguments or even in its morality. It’s in Christ our redeemer manifesting himself throughout his church.
We are birthing the kingdom into this world every time we choose:
- Love in the midst of aggressive power
- Joy over despair
- Faithfulness instead of expedience
- Peace in the face of conflict
- Patience when we could do it faster in our own power
- Kindness when we’re maligned
- Gentleness in response to aggression
- Self-control when indulgence seems wiser
This means that we’re called to exhibit the ideals of a future kingdom now, even though it’s not yet a visible, tangible entity. . . even while we’re living within the confines of this despotic empire. We are to live as if the kingdom has fully come. . . in the world but not of it.
We must choose the kingdom
To embody the values of God’s kingdom in the midst of this world leaves us sensitive, defenseless, and exposed. We are the kingdom on display in its vulnerability. Sheep among wolves.
We need to see this truth as our strength, and renounce all temptation to resort to violence, intimidation, coercion, indulgence, or any other worldly strategy for fulfilling our goals. Our enemy is still in the desert courting us, just as he did Christ, to follow him and embrace his modus operandi for introducing God’s kingdom.
Choosing the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, Christ has ordained that his kingdom would come through a people who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who act as merciful, pure-in-heart peacemakers.
In Christ’s economy the salt of the earth would be people who counted themselves lucky to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake—not people who persecuted those who they deemed not righteous enough.
There was nothing about Good Friday that looked like victory, but that’s exactly what Christ’s sacrifice was. There is nothing in being the world’s servants, in loving our enemies, in turning the other cheek, in pouring our lives out for others that resembles progress, but in faith we trust that it is.
We believe that God is at work confounding the strong through our weakness.
We are the midwives of the kingdom, and in the midst of the delivery drama, the mess, and exhaustion . . . we are bringing something incredible into this world.