“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”—1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV
It’s crazy, isn’t it? How is it that we who gratefully delight together in the love of God, and in whom deeply resonate His unifying Word and Spirit of truth, can easily turn on each other in disharmony and division? Whatever the matter of contention, or even its degree of importance, the “e pluribus” within us can send the “unum” about us packing pretty quickly. Fondness freezes, bonds break, and we’re left to wonder—or to justify—what just happened, for when we understand and engage life solely through empirical means of knowledge and worldly ways of thinking, it is like wearing 2D glasses to a 3D movie—we miss the big picture. The authorities and ideologies of this world are familiar enough to us, yet we exist, also, in one of two realms of a different dimension. It is important we know this, and it matters which one.
To the question, “What is the Kingdom of God?” Martin Luther answered: “God sent His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, into the world to redeem and deliver us from the power of the devil, and to bring us to Himself, and to govern us as a King of righteousness, life, and salvation …”1 Today’s sound-bite-friendly version might read: God’s kingdom is this—Jesus came to redeem us, deliver us, draw us, and govern us. This He has accomplished, for while we once “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient,”2 we instead rest our soul and rejoice in this: “[the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”3 The Kingdom has come, and we who are in Christ live securely forever under His power and authority.
Why then, our ready regression into old ways of division? While the Kingdom has come and “our citizenship is in heaven,”4 we still struggle against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”5 The Kingdom of God is here, yes, but we look to a day when the “kingdom of the world [will become] the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”6 We are citizens of heaven living as strangers in a rebellious and tempting realm, so God sends us His Spirit “to illumine and strengthen us in the faith by His power.”7 His Kingdom is here, and in this confidence we wait for His Kingdom to come.
“Our Father in heaven, you are holy. Come today in your Spirit to prevail among us, that we would live in amid the kingdom of this world as people of the Kingdom of your Son. In His name we pray. Amen.
1 “The Large Catechism,” The Book of Concord, accessed June 30, 2020, http://bookofconcord.org/lc-5-ourfather.php
2 Ephesians 2:2
3 Colossians 1:13, 14
4 Philippians 3:30
5 Ephesians 6:12
6 Revelation 11:15
7 “The Large Catechism.”