All Things

Not considered, but reconciled.

“So spacious is [Jesus], so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe — people and things, animals and atoms — get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.”

My theology has no room for a world that is irrevocably broken, for a heaven and earth that cannot be put to rights, because my theology does have room for an all-powerful god who’s in the business of restoration. “Your kingdom come” becomes a call to action, a vocational prayer that affects me directly.

I fielded questions from 7th graders all weekend, from “how do we know what God’s will is?” to the classic “what if a murderer asked for forgiveness?” One that stuck out was simple: “why did Jesus have to die?” As I fumbled through explaining sin without sounding like a totally depraved Calvinist, I started explaining that we were separated from God, and Jesus bridged that gap, and when he did that, the whole entire kingdom of God became available to us, and life with him was instantly ours. At that moment, we became co-conspirators in the grand plan to bring heaven onto earth, to redeem and reconcile all things, to make reality an earth where darkness will no longer be.

And in what might be the world’s most heavy-handed metaphor, the parking lot we used to smoke in is now a butterfly garden. The friends that broke up nineteen times in college pastor a church. Those I’ve seen hit their most destitute and desperate moments are full of health and life. The ebb and flow, the waves of daily life, keeps coming, and today we’re on a high tide. But seasons change, and as I write the days are getting shorter. The restoration that seems so easy today might be hard work tomorrow.

Yet Dallas Willard writes,

Standing in the kingdom, we make responsible decisions in love, with assurance that how things turn out for us does not really matter that much because, in any case, we are in the kingdom of the heavens. In that kingdom nothing that can happen to us is “the end of the world.”

And today the kingdom of heaven is a game of fishbowl, an email from a student, the chance to sleep in, an apology to my parents for running so many tolls. A friend letting students sleep in her classroom because the outside world is coming at them from all sides. A few small decisions made in love and a little bit of rest, a space in a roomy redeemed world and the opportunity to stretch it a little more. Not the end of the world, but the very middle of it.

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