|Mt. Hope Cemetery on election day 2016|
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you....The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes." Luke 17:20-21; 24 The MessageHow tempting it is for me to think of the work of the Divine One as something that gets done "out there." Somehow the public arena, the world of affairs, becomes the focus of living a Christian life. These words of Jesus are a corrective. It is still true that even these words, however, can hide a fundamental reality.
While "God's Kingdom" had a definitive meaning to those people whose social and political lives were structured by kings and their spheres of influence, that is thankfully no long how most of us live. In the world of the followers of Jesus, it was a given that they would be part of a kingdom. The changing reality was the identity of the king. One kingdom after another had taken control of the land that Jesus walked. Most were brutal conquerors but not all. The message of Jesus was that all human kings were replaced with the kingship of the Divine One who had sent Jesus into the world to announce that very reality. That message certainly did not mean that there would not be human kings. Jesus did not come to establish some kind of theocracy to replace human organization and governance of social life. Jesus came to announce a deeper, more fundamental reality.
To people whose reality does not include kings and their kingdoms, this language can distort the message. Think of it this way: Jesus came to announce that the Divine One had decided to extend the divine family to include all of us and all that is. Families are social organizations that exist at a deeper level than political arrangements. They continue regardless of the political and social arrangements of our public life. (Admittedly some political and social arrangements are more or less conducive to this dynamic.)
We are not called to establish a divine kingdom. We are called to recognize our membership in the family of the Divine One and to live out those values in the day to day life we lead. Without that fundamental understanding any kind of political involvement of people of faith simply becomes co-opted by the "powers that be" in their agendas. By attending to this deeper reality and identity, The Son of Man "simply comes."