Tuesday, June 29, 2010


How would you react if, while you were reading a familiar passage of Scripture, God's voice suddenly boomed from Heaven to ask how you were living up to those words? I've seen two versions of a skit where this happens on every line of the Lord's Prayer; not surprisingly, the person praying tried unsuccessfully to dodge "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors!"

Another "problem phrase" was one most Christians pray with unthinking enthusiasm under "normal" circumstances: "Thy Kingdom come." Do we want God's perfect world, forever free of hatred, pollution, and death--and an extra-large serving of foretaste on earth? Definitely! Are we prepared to accept that God's response to that request may be an assignment to get to work building the Kingdom? Most of us get a bit nervous here. We're like kids who beg Mom to fix their favorite dish but don't want to set the table, preferring to lie back and watch TV until called to indulge their pleasures.

Edmund Burke is credited with having said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." As much as with deliberately malicious people, that applies with the general evils inherent in our world--and with the evil-vs.-good battle inside each of us. It's not that God couldn't make the world perfect without our help, but that it would be inherently contradictory for Him to make us perfect without our free-will cooperation. And the world can never be perfect while its inhabitants are morally imperfect--however much we want to believe that all we need is to be free of effort, hardship, and want.

Obviously, we can't be completely free of any of the above, or of the evil in our own natures, in this life. But neither does God want us to sit idly by and wait for Him to bring in the final Kingdom.

We'll enjoy it--and the trip there--all the more if we work while we wait.

Somewhere beyond the frenzied crowd,
Some place where noise is not so loud,
Where air is fresh and skies are clear,
And nature close throughout the year,
With nights so black a thousand stars
Are seen with Jupiter and Mars,
And winters tinged with silvery ice—
I call that earthly Paradise.

The place where dreams for all come true,
Where all do what they’re made to do,
Where each finds joy in daily tasks,
Help comes to everyone who asks,
And no one’s made to feel alone,
And each one has a loving Home,
None need reminders to be nice—
Will come someday, in Paradise.

But such a place, within this world
Where stress and hate and pain are hurled,
Still seems at best a lovely dream—
And yet, as sure as sunshine's gleam,
Such things will yet one day come true:
And God wants all who dream to do,
Not simply wish nor give advice.
Awaiting future Paradise.

Let's work for what we'll someday see,
For God has tasks for you and me.
So smile today at someone new;
Pick up some trash not left by you;
Put others' needs before your own;
Console the one who sits alone;
Stand for the right at any price—
Show every day God's Paradise.

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