Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Your Kingdom Come...But Not Today(?)

Neil Plantinga writes about how followers of Jesus -- people who claim to subscribe to his teachings -- don't really take him all that seriously very often. Yes, we may believe he is the Son of God come to planet earth to redeem us by dying a sacrificial death and secure for us everlasting life through the power of his resurrection. But we don't have much respect for him as a teacher. He helps us with what happens after we die, the apostle Paul helps us with life now, right?

For example, even though Jesus told us to pray for God's kingdom to come, most of us whisper this prayer just under our breath so God can't quite hear us. It's not something we have come to really embrace as part of our lives. Here's Plantinga's quote:

"'Your kingdom come,' we pray, 'but not right away.' When our earthly kingdoms have had a good year, we don't necessarily long for the kingdom of God to break in. We like our own setup just fine."

I think one of the reasons we don't look forward to heaven (or don't think it's much of a big deal) is that we don't really understand what the Bible says about it. Lewis Smedes (a former seminary professor) used to ask his students if they wanted to go the heaven when they died. Everyone said yes. Then he would ask, "Who wants to go right now -- I mean today before the sun goes down?"

Maybe they were afraid he was going to start passing around kool-aid, but most students wanted a rain check.

Sure, we want God's kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We're just not sure we want it today. After all, tonight's pizza night, the Braves are in first place, the Bulldogs are undefeated. Does it have to be now?

Let's have this straight: If you want everything that is currently upside-down to finally be set rightside-up, if you want a world with no more cancer, no more poverty, no more hunger, no more war -- if you are interested in waking up tomorrow in a world like that, you want heaven right now.