Monday, July 28, 2008

Kingdom Economics

Yesterday morning during the talk-back time after the sermon, someone brought up a section of the scripture that I had not touched on. After a series of sayings about the kingdom of God, Jesus says, "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Before I could open my mouth to respond, John spoke up. John is a mid-50s man who in most contexts is probably considered developmentally disabled. I would label him that if I'd just met him and didn't know him. But over the course of the five years I have been lucky enough to be his pastor I have come to deeply appreciate that he is, truly, differently abled. He has a knack for speaking profound truth quite simply.
Yesterday morning he said something to the effect of, "you know, there's too much of that all around us right now. I try to focus on what's good."
He went on to name some of the good. For him it is always family, food and classical music.
As I listened to him, I knew that he had put the truth far more eloquently than I was prepared to as I was spinning theological reflections through my mind. They amounted to the same thing: that if the kingdom of God is near, among us, as Jesus put it, then surely so is hell precisely what we make of it here and now. We don't need the angels to separate the evil from the righteous, we do it ourselves all the time. Indeed, we do it within ourselves, living divided lives as the better angels of our natures contest with alienation in our souls.
John spoke it much more clearly, and it was a kingdom moment. For in the broader culture and economy surely he is considered among the least of these, not worth much to the ledger's bottom line. But in the kingdom economy, plain wisdom is a pearl of great value.

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