Friday, December 30, 2016

The Kingdom of God is People

Those of us who are old enough will remember Charleston Heston's role in the dystopian sci-fi classic "Soylent Green". The movie was titled after a fictional nutritional substance that humanity depended on for survival. In the movie he plays an detective who investigates a murder. He follows the evidence to its end. When he realizes the truth, he belts out that iconic line, "Soylent Green is people!"

In many ways this movie was a product of its time. The era produced an entire genre of post-apocalyptic movies. Certainly they were all a  commentary on our fears and self-destructive tendencies. Perhaps even on consumerism's endpoint where we consume ourselves. Those would all be a topic for another blog. For now I want to focus on "people".

Throughout His ministry, Jesus tried to convey truths about the Kingdom of God to people. Think of all the metaphors Jesus used to describe "Kingdom of God". A treasure  hidden in a field. A pearl of great price. A mustard seed.

When he sent his disciples out, he instructed them to say "The Kingdom of God is Near". He never told them how to describe or define this kingdom. They were simply to announce it's nearness.

So what is the Kingdom of God? What was it that Jesus alluded to, told parables about, announced the presence of, but never directly defined? It was hidden in plain sight, right in front of everyone. The Kingdom of God is people! People following Jesus. It's that simple.

The Kingdom of God is people following Jesus. They adhere to his teachings. They follow his example. If Jesus said "love your neighbor", then they love their neighbors. If Jesus said be kind and hospitable to marginalized people ("the least of these"), then his followers are kind and hospitable. If Jesus said forgive enemies, then they forgive their enemies. If Jesus said "love one another as I have loved you", then his people, kingdom people, love one another.

The Kingdom of God is built with rejected and marginalized people,  the people no one else wants. Jesus' followers love them,  re-humanize them, and build a family out of them. That is how the Kingdom grows.

The only evidence of this Kingdom is the lives of its people. Their disposition and actions towards others. When people are re-humanized by Jesus,  have their dignity restored, when people feel like people in the presence of Jesus' followers, the Kingdom is near. Because The Kingdom of God is people!

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