Recently, I had a bad dream; I woke up suddenly believing that I had been attacked by a large army of cockroaches. Thankfully, when my eyes were fully opened, there was not a cockroach in sight.
No doubt, a good therapist could work out why I had such a nightmare. Maybe it was just the curry from dinner taking revenge on my psyche. Sometimes, thankfully, dreams don’t come true. They are usually the product of anxious living.
Does God have dreams? Probably not the kind we have. Some Christians, however, think that all the talk in the Bible about ‘the kingdom of God’ is really talk about God’s dream for humankind. Pick up on most of the Old Testament prophets and you will get this drift. If you read through the long and winding Isaiah or the short and abrupt Haggai, you will catch a glimpse of the hopes and dreams God has for humankind.
Jesus was captured by these Godly dreams when he began his ministry with the words, ‘the time has come, the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1 v 15). Notice how Jesus connects kingdom with the words “now” and “arrived.” The waiting was over and it was time for the kingdom to arrive.
It wasn’t, however, what most of Israel expected. They thought kingdom equals a king, land and citizens. The king meant ditching Caesar or the corrupt local king (Herod Antipas) and replacing him with a Messiah. This new king would sit on the throne in Jerusalem and rule the land. The land would flow with milk and honey and everyone would follow the Torah (the Law). The citizens would love and serve the king and the kingdom would expand.
Jesus’ dream was different. His kingdom was not of this world. The dream-maker Jesus was the king, but a humble king, a servant king. He is Lord, both longing to be enthroned in the life of each person while also being Lord of the cosmos, ruling in time and space.
The citizens (disciples) of the kingdom are those who share the dream of Jesus for a society shaped by love, truth, beauty and justice. A society (a kingdom) where people truly care for each other, God is honoured and Jesus is followed.
This God-shaped society is where prayer and praise are balanced with compassion and a commitment to see God’s reign everywhere. The kingdom is about heart and head, the environment and education, politics and poverty, church and state.
We pray as we go “your kingdom come, your will be done.”
Our mission must be shaped by the kingdom dream of Jesus. I hope and pray that this edition of Revive will help us all to dream and do as Jesus did.
Rev Steve Francis, moderator of the Uniting Church WA