And so it is. After having a couple of friends over for New Year's Eve last night, today has been a very mellow sort of day with leftover Chinese food, winter getaway thoughts, and a visit to Bedside Baptist church (an Andy Stanley video actually!) I took Havana out for a walk this morning and was amazed at the absolute lack of activity. Christmas seemed fairly quiet on our street, but nothing compared to the stillness this morning.
This has been a fairly reflective day as well. We watched a World Vision TV special earlier and I've been reading some of Brian McLaren's next book, The Secret Message of Jesus, that comes out in April. Without divulging too much information, McLaren's premise is that Jesus had a "secret" that we have not really understood for most of the last two millennia, namely, that the Kingdom of God is not a future glory to look forward to, but is here, among us now. In Matthew 10:7 Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is near” - Jesus ushered in the Kingdom. In McLaren's words, "Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often become preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven."
I’ve read a lot and thought a lot about “the kingdom” lately and wrote this in my journal last night: How then, does my perspective of the world change if I am seeking the establishment of God’s kingdom on a daily basis? How do I view my community, my neighbours, my co-workers, and my friends? How does my view of the environment change? What about poverty and oppression, both at home and around the world…
Looking back at 2005, I know that God challenged me and stretched my faith more than ever before and in ways I would not have expected. I have a greatly expanded view of who my neighbour is and a much deeper vision of what my community and the world could be if the Kingdom of God were allowed to fully establish itself. And contrary to the opinion of many, I am convinced that the Kingdom has nothing to do with political power or influence. It is a kingdom of love, joy, hope, humility, and peace. These are the words of a true revolution!
As I look forward to 2006, I wonder what God has in store; but as I sit here writing this now, I feel very strongly that He will continue to stretch my concept of the Kingdom even further. In many ways, my faith has moved from my head to my heart this year. My prayer is that it would move from my heart to my hands and feet in the year ahead.
Happy New Year to All!