I know we shouldn’t beat a dead horse, but what do we do when something is still very much alive and bears repeating? Is that the equivalent of beating a living horse? I hope not. That would make me feel awful.
Regardless, I want to bring up something I’ve mentioned before: God’s kingdom. Working at a inter-denominational Christian school, I hear all kinds of ideas. And being in my position, as a Church History and American Literature teacher, I try not to force my own ideas on the students. Sometimes, its unavoidable (and I realize a million other teachers just went, “shame on you!”). But it’s true. No one is a blank slate, but some people are definitely like silly putty. They take a shallow impression of whatever someone gives them (thoughts, words, talents, etc.) and it only sticks until the next thing.
With all that being said, I avoid talking about God’s kingdom, as I understand it. Which is hard when studying the first four centuries of Christianity since they were so resurrection minded. But still, somehow I made it through without trying to create mini-Hadleys. I imagine that was by the grace of God, since I’ve never been known to hold my tongue on something I feel strongly about.
I bring it up because, in some ways, I feel like my students are the less for it. If only they could see God’s kingdom the way I have come to see it. After all, I had to have someone show me another way of looking at it. Don’t they need the same thing?
N.T. Wright explains it like this:
The widespread assumption today that ‘the kingdom of God’ denotes another realm altogether, for instance that of the ‘heaven’ to which God’s people might hope to go after their death, was not on the first-century agenda. When Jesus spoke about God’s kingdom, and taught his followers to pray that it would arrive ‘on earth as in heaven’, he was right in the middle of first-century Jewish theocratic aspirations.
I’ll write some other time on why I think we need to get back to a true theocracy. But for now, I want to think about the heart of this idea: what Jesus taught.
If Jesus taught His people to be something different, shouldn’t we do the same? If God called His people to be the kind of folk who care about justice, mercy and humility, shouldn’t we be that way?
I know lots of people who do in fact sound like this. Some of them are Democrats, and some are Republicans. Some are Federalists, and some are Socialists. But somehow, they all serve Jesus. My students miss this often. They can’t see how someone who doesn’t value their politics can still be a Christian. And not too long ago, I thought the same way.
More and more I am convinced that it is not so much our ideologies that stand in the way, but rather our refusal to consider what God’s purposes might be. What if you don’t go to heaven? Would that cause you to abandon Jesus? What if you die, and then you just “sleep” until Jesus comes back? Are you going to stop living for Him if you don’t get your pie in the sky?
This is what I want my students to think about: do I live a certain way because I think a certain thing? And I think it’s a question we should all ask ourselves.
So I might be repetitive. But I never beat a dead horse. In reality, I’m always trying to point people to a risen Jesus.