Over the last several weeks, we have journeyed through Lent and Holy Week. Now on this side of the resurrection, we can faithfully proclaim, “We are an Easter people.” So now what? Is it business as usual or does being an Easter people mean something?
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” is a prayer that has been central to the Christian faith from its inception. But what is it that we envision God’s kingdom to be? It is easy for us to superimpose upon our image of the Kingdom ideas that come from our understanding of earthly kingdoms. The quest for kingdom (little k) in our world has always come with violence; physical, social, economic, etc. In our quest for kingdom, peace has been fleeting at best and at worst merely an illusion. The violence done on the part of one person or group of people in an effort to establish their own vision of kingdom leaves behind nothing but brokenness, even when the intentions are good.
The “Good News” is that we have a promise from God that “a new heaven and a new earth” will replace all of our insufficient attempts at kingdom building. Where we will dwell eternally with God and God “will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” (Rev 21:4) When we pray, “thy kingdom come,” that is what we pray for. However, we must never forget that Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of God has drawn near. That means that we can experience the coming Kingdom of God as a reality now. It is more than just a future hope, but also a present reality. Jesus not only proclaimed the Kingdom had come, but then he showed us what it looked like to live into that reality. As he went about dismantling the power structures that had arisen out of our broken attempts at kingdom, he showed us what it meant to live the Kingdom of God. No longer was “power over” an acceptable way of being in relationship with others. It was no longer acceptable to seek positions of power or privilege, but servant-hood was the basic component in the new order.
The resurrection verifies for us the veracity of Christ’s claims. Nothing else proves so clearly that God’s Kingdom is our present reality like the resurrection of Christ. The enemy of humanity, death, has been defeated and Christ calls us to live a resurrected life. It is the resurrected life of Christ, in which we participate, that is the assurance of our present and future hope. Paul says, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Rom 5:10).