I am in the process of digesting Brian McLaren’s ‘A New Kind of Christianity.’ I say ‘digesting’ because it is one of those books that requires some reading, then some thinking, them some reflecting, then some praying, and so on, before ultimately returning to the page again.
So I’m reading along and all of a sudden I’m overwhelmed. Brian is talking about visions and dreams of the reign of God. He quotes passage after passage from the prophets showing the beauty, glory, peace, and harmony of God’s kingdom.
“If we are people who live in the Genesis narrative of creation and reconciliation and the Exodus narrative of liberation and formation, what if we were to receive these images as a vision of the kind of future toward which God is inviting us in history? What if we saw them less as a literal description beyond history and more as a guiding star within it, less as a literal description and prediction and more as a poetic promise and hope, less as a doctrine to be debated and more as an unquenchable dream that inspires us to unceasing constructive action? What if we saw them as a good future in time, not a perfect state beyond time?”
(All this while soaking in a backdrop of soft music–Barber’s ‘Adagio’ to be exact. I started to well up with emotion as I thought how this totally eclipses other ‘vision statements’ and the petty dreams we have for our lives, families, churches, and communities. This motivates me far more than any budget, target, or goal!)
“. . . As this approach relieves us of literalistic interpretations, it frees us to let the poetry work as poetry is supposed to. Swords into plowshares. Today that would mean dreaming about tanks being melted down into playground jungle gyms and machine guns being swing sets. Wolves living with lambs. Today that would mean Christians and Jews and Muslims throwing a picnic together, or Lefties and Right-wingers forming a band and singing in harmony, or nuclear weapons engineers being redeployed to develop green energy. Children playing with snakes, centenarians seeming to be in the prime of life. Today those [would] suggest . . . a time of deep safety for vulnerable people, without gaps in the health care system, so all could live a full life from childhood to senior citizenship.” (pp. 62-63)
That dream–that hope–blows my mind. God’s world as it was created to be: at peace, unified, having one purpose, and doing it all in harmony. That’s the vision I want to see in front of every church, every school, every home. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God, let it be!