Peace on earth, good will toward men.”
“and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:2
Everyone has a dream of a perfect world.
Some dreams come from culture. Some dreams come from parents.
Christians also live with a dream.
And contrary to what it might seem, the dream is not for everyone to look the same, talk the same, vote the same way, go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, never see R movies, never cuss, or generally avoid fun altogether.
And the dream is not just about heaven, though it would seem that “going to heaven when you die” seems to be the main goal for many.
No this dream goes beyond behavior and where you would go if you died tonight, as important as both of these things are. This dream is about something much bigger and much more transformational.
The dream encompasses not just human behavior and individual destiny, but also creation and the remaking of all things.
In fact, what I am about to share might be surprising to some Christians themselves.
You see, we Christians have a secret which we either have forgotten or are unsure how to share.
The secret is a dream for the world and everyone in it.
Like so many, we want a world without hunger, disease, poverty, where people live generous lives, the environment is clean, and more. And you can find Christians working toward these goals all over the world. I can name many.
But we believe such a world can only come about ultimately by a power greater than us.
We dream of a world set right by God, not by us. We dream of a world where the real flaw behind all the problems we see is solved. We dream of a world where God is King and makes all things new.
“the gospel, in the New Testament, is the good news that God (the world’s creator) is at last becoming king and that Jesus, whom this God raised from the dead, is the world’s true lord.” NT Wright, Surprised by Hope
This is a dream not from us (as if we could imagine a truly perfect world) but given by God through Jesus.
As Christians we seek and work for a world that Jesus wanted – a world where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. And if God’s will is done on earth as in heaven, that means that God is the ultimate authority.
But what does this look like?
Aha. We look to Jesus.
Jesus spoke about a world where God is King more than anything else. He taught and modeled what life is like when love of God and others is at the center, where God rather than self is ruling. In short, Jesus taught us about life in the kingdom of God. And through his death and resurrection, by the defeat of death, Jesus launched this kingdom!
But our problem is we have made ourselves king and put our hope in kings. And this has affected everything.
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:13
All along, though, we were meant for another kingdom, which is why we want to change things in the first place!
Sadly, the dream of God being King, of His will on earth as in heaven, gets lost in smaller dreams of growing churches, shallow moralism, individualism, and disembodied “life after death” where all you have to do is say a particular prayer and you are good to go.
To recapture the dream, we ask ourselves, what kind of world does God want? Not just what we want, which can be fickle and ill informed at best.
We have been given a dream from our Father to come home to Him, repent and put Him back as the ruler of our lives and this world. And as we work to relieve the suffering we see, as we seek to embody His will on earth as in heaven, we are actually living the dream He has given us!
So forgive us if we give you only part of the story, if we only tell you what to say to avoid hell or just get you busy doing stuff.
The real hope we want you to know is a world made new (and you made new) by God through Jesus. And this hope is made possible not by new rules, regulations, or religions, but only by what God has done in Christ. One day the work He began in Christ will be completed. All things will be new.
For this is the message our Father whispers in any ear willing to hear and boldly proclaims in Christ for any eyes willing to see. This is the dream from our Father.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21