Maybe we have been telling the wrong story. What if instead of a sci-fi thriller, we are supposed to be telling a love story?
When we misunderstand the story, we don’t live rightly within the story, and we certainly don’t communicate the right message about our King and His Kingdom.
In reading different endtime scenarios, I couldn’t shake the feeling that so much of it is based on a distorted view of both the existing and future nature of the kingdom of God and rulership of Christ.
The people in Jesus’ time were convinced that the kingdom Jesus spoke of would be an overthrow of existing powers in their day. They believed the man riding into town on the donkey would be their Dread Champion. And He was and is, but not in the way they expected.
Likewise, the people of today are convinced that the kingdom of God will be an overthrow of existing powers. They believe that the man riding through the clouds on the white horse will be their Dread Champion. And He is and will be, but maybe not in the way they are expecting.
Apocolyptic language typically sounds violent and tyrannical, especially to the ears of those who believe they might be potential targets of this spiritual army. The people who consider themselves part of the army communicate an imperialistic vision of overthrow and theocratic authoritarian power.
Surely Jesus Christ is and will be Lord over all. Yet we can see throughout scripture that His is an alternative kingdom, a kingdom of love, restoration, and wholeness. An upside down kingdom where the poor, the marginalized, the broken, and children are welcomed and valued; yet entrance is difficult for the powerful, religious, or wealthy.
I believe as we begin to understand scripture through a redemptive lens it takes on a very different meaning than the frightening, judgmental message many of us originally learned.
The references to Jesus’ domination and power over his enemies refer to the defeat of darkness, evil, poverty, and pain. The lost are not Christ’s enemies. So often the wrath of God, His hatred of sin, is communicated as hatred of the lost. But scripture tells us otherwise, that God loves us while we are still sinners.
Rather than “advancing the kingdom” with conquering power, we participate in the kingdom. We are sent out with the message of God’s love and the assignment to heal. Perhaps our assignment to “judge the nations” is actually an assignment to be agents of the restoration of justice in the world today.
Judgment is when God restores all things to the way that He intended them to be. Restoration of justice is an expression of His righteousness and mercy overcoming oppression and injustice. Could it be that His rulership, that the reign of shalom is the best news imaginable? We have the privilege of ruling and reigning with Him, not as overlords, but as ministers of reconciliation.
I know that this could be written off as being too much peace, love, and rainbows. Maybe we have been reading through the wrong lens, and the fullness of the kingdom really is everything Jesus said it would be, and the end times are the fulfillment of all that He promised, life on earth as it is in heaven.
What if the end of the story is an incredible portrayal of love beyond what we can even imagine?