Imagine The Kingdom (Saturday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17
I wonder if we believe this. I wonder if we believe that Jesus longs for us to be one in him, and with one another. I wonder if we can even fathom God’s “glory” in Christ being given to us. Can we imagine the kingdom coming in such a personal, relational way?
In a world of selfishness and competition, it’s hard to grasp the idea that the maker of heaven and earth would be so utterly unselfish. In my family, we battle about who will take a shower first and how much hot water we’ll have and who gets to be in the bathroom and for how long. In our workplaces, we look over our shoulders, wondering if our colleague might get the promotion ahead of us. We live a world where people battle over profit, feed on the idol of accumulation, wage wars over who possesses what.
And yet, from the very beginning it seems that the very nature of God is selfless, giving infinitely of his infinite resources, continually overflowing in Love. For St. John, Love is God’s very character (1 John 4:8). God’s been trying to give away the greatest gift of all since the beginning of time, but we’re masters of sabotage, trying to bottle up our own versions of transcendence and love and glory when infinite Love is offered freely.
But what strikes me about St. John’s imagination in this passage more than anything else today is this: that the world may know. God’s very best advertisement, to put it crassly, is our embodiment of his love. It’s not the most effective mission strategy. It’s not the buttoned up theological argument. It’s not the most emotionally moving worship experience. It’s Love, embodied in women and men, young and old, rich and poor, have’s and have nots, people of every tribe and nation.
Sometimes in Lent I’ll get very focused on me – my growth, my sanctification process. But it struck me when I was taking Communion at church recently that the Table we approached was the great equalizer, that streams of people would come forward to receive who didn’t share the same blood or net worth or ethnic background or political beliefs all to participate in the life of Jesus. I watched and I wondered – do we even know what’s happening right now? I lamented about how ritualistic the sacrament had become for me and so many.
God longs to give away his glory. Love, freely given, is available in infinite proportion. What if we, in becoming one with Jesus, became one with each other, and in this showed a watching world how beautiful the community of God can be?
Loving God, open my heart to both receive and give, to drink deeply of your Love and then to give abundantly from it. Too many times I’ve settled for something less, and too often our world chooses a much less satisfying pathway to the Love it needs. Open our imaginations to see you giving of yourself, infinitely, not just for our sakes but so the world may know. Amen