Jesus and the Reign of God
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Summary: Sunday, November 15—Friday, November 20, 2020
The Reign of God is the subject of Jesus’s inaugural address, his Sermon on the Mount, and the majority of his parables. It is clearly the guiding image of his entire ministry. (Sunday)
Jesus is talking about the grace and the freedom to live God’s dream for the world now—while not rejecting the world as it is. That’s a mighty tension that is not easily resolved. (Monday)
Twice a year we pause the Daily Meditations to ask for your support. If you’ve been impacted by these Meditations, please consider donating. Any amount is appreciated, as we are committed to keeping these messages free and accessible to all. (Tuesday)
Jesus says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now). It’s not later, but lighter—some more subtle quality or dimension of experience accessible to you right in the moment. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Wednesday)
The Kingdom is about union and communion, it seems, which means that it is also about mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, letting go, solidarity, service, and lives of love, patience, and simplicity. Who can doubt that this is the sum and substance of Jesus’ teaching? (Thursday)
In God’s kingdom order becomes opportunity, stability melts into movement and change, status-quo government gives way to a revolution of community and neighborliness, policy bows to love, domination descends to service and sacrifice, control morphs into influence and inspiration, and vengeance and threats are transformed into forgiveness and blessing. —Brian McLaren (Friday)
Practice: All Things Are Possible with God
The Franciscan charism always re-emerges in fresh form—because it is the very “marrow of the Gospel.” Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s charism is to teach us how to live the Gospel in our time in fresh and needed ways. It is a challenging message and perhaps like the rich man, we will walk away (Mark 10:17–22), but we will not be unchanged by the encounter.
The gospel practices of confession, resistance, and nonviolent love are not . . . an exercise plan that will transform your church in thirty minutes a day. . . . These practices are simple steps that any group of people can take to move toward having church. But simple doesn’t mean easy. By any honest account, they are hard. . . .
Surely, if the good way were so simple, our history would not be as tortured, nor our present so fraught with division. . . .
Still, Jesus insists that the remedy is simple. Practice the way of life God has outlined for you, and you will live. When the middle-class American whines that this plan is too simple (it will never work!), Jesus doesn’t scold. “He looked at him and loved him,” Mark says. Jesus makes an honest assessment of the situation, then names the next step in gospel practice for this brother. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:21).
Don’t build the new sanctuary. Quit your job. Trust yourself. Forgive the one who hurt you. Go and meet the gang member. The next step for any of us is as particular as our context and the stories that have brought us into the relationships where we are. But the rich young ruler wouldn’t have been talking to Jesus . . . if he didn’t already sense something of what the next step in gospel practice would mean for him. . . .
“All things are possible with God,” Jesus says (Mark 10:27). It’s a simple statement of faith. But Jesus fleshes out its content for his disciples by saying “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age” (Mark 10:29–30).
Yes, gospel practices will cost us everything. But when we give ourselves to gospel practices, we gain what we could not have otherwise: “homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30). We can begin to live the life that’s really life—not some ideal (persecutions come right along with it!), but a beloved community that starts now and lasts forever. In short, when we trust the gospel’s practices, letting them direct our lives, we begin to have what the New Testament calls “church.”
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion (InterVarsity Press: 2018), 150–151, 152–153.
For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind—A New Perspective on Christ and His Message (Shambhala: 2008).
John Dominic Crossan, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer (HarperCollins: 2010).
Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (Waterbrook: 2016).
Amy-Jill Levine, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi (HarperOne: 2014).
Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson: 2007).
Richard Rohr with John Bookser Feister, Jesus’ Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (Franciscan Media: 1996).
Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (St. Anthony Messenger Press: 2008).