When we think of the internal struggles and civil conflicts that we typically face within our relationships and church communities, many of us may be tempted to look for a specific problem, person, or issue to blame for the perceived conflict. While that may be the case some of the time, the cause of our civil wars could actually be stemming from the very solution or promise that we have been given from our Lord. History will show us that the Lord is completely fine with the temporary conflicts and wars that arise from His promises of peace, unity, and oneness.
A Lesson From History
Many historians will tell you that the U.S. civil war of the nineteenth century, and the following civil rights movement of the twentieth century actually began with the promises put on paper by the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. The idea that all human beings were created with equal value and certain unalienable rights given to them by their creator, unable to be taken from them by any government, highlighted the horrors of the slave trade that existed in daily life. Even as late as the 1960’s, the inconsistencies of what was written in the American founding documents with the reality of racial segregation and prejudice that still existed in daily life, prompted the civil rights conflict that many of us are now the beneficiaries of.
When civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr first began talking about a society of people who could function together without the racial segregation and prejudices that had been a normal part of life for thousands of years of human history, many agreed with him in theory, although they thought it was an unrealistic dream in this world. Many argued that because of fallen human nature, the races would never be able to co-exist fully. Thankfully, not all people believed this.
It is my personal belief that Martin Luther King Jr saw something profound. He had a vision of sorts. I am convinced that what he saw was from another realm or kingdom entirely, regardless of whether or not he fully grasped what he saw. What he saw governed him. I’m convinced that the vision he saw of a community existing without the walls of segregation and division was actually a vision of life within the person of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of the in-breaking kingdom of God, not a picture of a country or nation humans can build. It is a picture of the kingdom (community) that Christ is actively building!
In the same way, the promises that Jesus made concerning His in-breaking kingdom will cause radical conflict with the mindsets and systems of thought that currently exist in the old kingdom infected with the curse.
In the old kingdom, working to survive and eat was the chief aim and focus of humanity.
In the old kingdom, fear and obedience to an external law was the compass that guided human interactions with one another.
In the old kingdom, the ability of male and female to know and relate to one another was severely limited and damaged.
In the old kingdom, blood related family was the highest and most intimate form of community.
In the old kingdom, relationships were restricted to mutual interests, similar socioeconomic statuses, or shallow strategic partnerships.
For most of my life, even as a believer in Christ, I lived by the laws of the old kingdom. But then I read something…
Something about a NEW kingdom…
In the NEW kingdom, I read that I no longer had to be preoccupied with acquisition of resources for survival. I could now live for a higher reality altogether!
In the NEW kingdom, I read that the foundation of this new reality is no longer rooted in a fear based commitment to external laws, but indwelling love (Christ).
In the NEW kingdom, I read that we could now love and relate to one another in the exact same way that Jesus did because of indwelling love (Christ).
In the NEW kingdom, I read that the fleshly divisions that once kept male and female, other races, and people from differing socioeconomic classes from significantly knowing one another are no longer in existence. Those walls, rooted in the curse, were finally destroyed!
In the NEW kingdom, I read that the highest and most intimate form of family is now rooted in something greater than a common set of human parents. Our NEW mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters would be rooted in an eternal person (Christ). As a result, our family would expand greatly.
In the NEW kingdom, I read that true relationships would originate with our heavenly Father, not simply a common hobby, strategic partnership, or similar socioeconomic background.
Although what I read gave me great hope, daily life can sometimes have a way of raining on our parades, so to speak. If I had a dime for every time I’ve been accused of being too idealistic, I’d have a whole dollar. The NEW kingdom is opposed by everything old. I’d be lying if I said all that opposition hasn’t discouraged me. It has. I’ve been beaten by the watchmen of the city on more than one occasion. But then something glorious happened.
I received a vision.
All I can say is that I have seen over the mountain, so to speak. I know this NEW kingdom is real. I have tasted it, and am tasting it deeply. What I have seen and tasted has encouraged me. The NEW kingdom is real. The NEW kingdom is possible. The NEW kingdom is already in our midst.
I’d like to leave you with the words that Martin Luther King Jr spoke on April 3rd, 1968. This was his last speech. The following day, he was shot to death. In light of this, his words speak volumes.
Brothers and sisters, don’t be discouraged. We’re going to get there because we already have.