Sunday, December 30, 2007

Awaiting Our King

We attended a Christmas service with family on the 23rd. Going to a church service is always a fascinating experience for me now.

The sermon I heard was 95% the best sermon I've heard in years -- all about us awaiting, with great anticipation, the coming of Christ (just as they did in the first century). It was really an honest discussion of the fact that life sooner or later will break your heart, and when it does, those are the moments when you will either seek Him (await, with great anticipation, His coming) or you will detach from everything spiritual and everyone around you. It was great reflection on the real spiritual journey and the realities that we all must face.

I hesitate to even mention the other 5%, because I try so hard not to be critical and negative. But I must write about that part too, because it also taught me something. For some unexplained reason, the speaker inserted a brief section about hating political correctness and about us being right and everyone else being wrong, and so forth.

I had a realization: perhaps many people of that preacher's generation (he was probably in his late 50s or early 60s) remember a world where life in the USA somewhat reflected the Kingdom of God? Perhaps? Maybe that is why they are still motivated by this idea of us versus them, of we have to save America, of America is God's chosen people, of "I'll dare they take away Christian principles from the public square," etc?

I began reflecting on why I am so unmoved by all of that kind of rhetoric. Why do I just assume that the Kingdom of God is not America, and our mission is not to make it so, while others will make that battle so important that they almost lose sight of love?

I sat there and wished that speaker would just be Christ's follower -- just do it for the world to see -- instead of engaging in a heated debate with the culture around him. Why not just live truth in the midst of culture instead of trying so hard to yell back at the culture? (After all, if he really believes he is "right," wouldn't just living it out fully be the most logical thing to do?)

Maybe this is why I feel differently: I didn't grow up in a "Kingdom of God" version of the USA. Not saying that I grew up in a bad place -- it was actually quite nice. But rarely did I grow up really experiencing Kingdom reality in the culture around me. I didn't grow up in the midst of a world where people really lived loved by God and engaged in authentic community with others out of the overflow of that love. Luckily, I caught glimpses of it from family and close friends. But it wasn't the norm in the schools, churches, and other "communities" that existed all around me. So I guess I don't believe the USA is God's country and that my mission in life is to preserve it, or fight to get it back, or whatever. I like living here -- don't get me wrong -- but that is mainly because I'm a selfish consumer who enjoys the material benefits. Who wouldn't?

I believe my mission is to live out Kingdom reality (the best broken little me can) in the midst of whatever is happening around me in culture. I guess that's why I'm not so engaged in the culture-war version of Christianity that has taken over the evangelical church.

But back to the 95% of the sermon. It was great. We all start to find the King in the place where our hearts are most broken. As we grow more mature we learn to go through problems instead of around them -- or maybe we just learn to trust instead of manipulate -- at least sometimes.

Here's to awaiting our King and his Kingdom to break in all around us. I think that's Christmas.