A belated return to Walter Rauschenbusch.
“Christian morality finds its highest dignity and its constant corrective in making the aims of the kingdom of God the supreme aim to which all minor aims must contribute and from which they gain their moral quality. The church substituted itself for the kingdom of god and thereby put the advancement of a tangible and very human organisation in the place of the moral uplifting of humanity.”
“churchly correctness took precedence over Christlike goodness.”
His comments on church and kingdom and the subsequent discussions we had in class provoked some musing on my part, coupled with some stuff I was listening to from Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll. Those words resonate today as often the church/churches seem more interested in building their little empires and running their programmes than building the kingdom. Thinking in terms of kingdom is challenging as it broadens our horizons. For me in a Christian student organisation it raises lots of questions. How does the extension of the kingdom sit/clash/merge with our values and partnering with others seeking to build the kingdom but who have different approaches?
God’s plan in history is to build his kingdom, and the church is the means to do that – not the end in itself it seems if you read Revelation 22 which sees the leaves of the tree of life being for the healing of the nations. It makes you wonder if CS Lewis in the Last Battle is getting this when it comes to some ‘outside Christianity’ – without getting all universalist of course.
Something else in this smogashboard of things floating around my head is a frustration with people who equate the life of following Jesus being about going to heaven. Reading the biblical texts doesn’t necessarily suggest this – God is establishing his kingdom, creating/recreating a new heavens and new earth and the bible ends with the ‘new Jerusalem’ descending, reiterating that the physical earth is a crucial part of God reconciling to himself all things. Its also interesting as we look at the big picture flow of the bible that it starts in a garden and ends in a city of people from every nationality and people group. For God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and for his kingdom to come surely means that we need to work hard at building inclusive church communities of all nationalities, young, old, rich and poor – youth congregations or monocultural congregations may be easier in the short term but are they really expressions of God’s kingdom if there isn’t longer term integration?
Some muddled musings grasping at the wonder of the most incredible reconstruction project in history, especially given the fragility of the raw materials…