Some of you standing here are going to see… the Kingdom of God arrive in full force.
They did. Some of those within earshot of Jesus witnessed the Kingdom after Jesus’ death and resurrection, after the Spirit came upon them. As Jesus ascended into the heavens, the disciples began not just to travel together (which they did do, too), or fight amongst each other (ditto that), or share some things in common.
In the second chapter of Acts, we have the scene at the Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes upon the gathered disciples like something out of Joseph Campbell influenced scifi/fantasy, sans centaurs. They start speaking in other languages like they took Rosetta Stone courses via the Matrix. They share the Kingdom Message, a new king, a new way of living, a new life. The Jesus Movement grows exponentially.
The Kingdom of God comes upon them.
And most of these people live fully together, sharing everything out of abundance and need.
This euphoric moment doesn’t last forever, however – especially as it becomes insular rather than expanding. But it is then that we got a glimpse of pure heaven on earth. Something we Christians long to recreate – and for brief, fleeting moments, we succeed in pockets.
Something that I’d argue non-Christians also long for. We see glimpses and pushes for it in socialism, in the various Spring and Occupy movements – the idea that we are all in this together, that we share not just earth, but her goodness. That we can indeed fight against the corrupting influence of impericism and its resultant death culture.
This was Jesus’ way. His movement. And he alluded to how to get there just before, at the end of chapter 8:
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
The Arawak Indians understood this long before Columbus and his anti-Christ Christian men – informed more by the fledgling imperialism of European nationalism than by the teachings and life of Jesus – killed them off. All of them. Every. Last. One. Of. Them.
“Yet though he slay me, thus shall I share with him…”
May we Christians demonstrate what it means to live in the self-sacrificial and other-centered Kingdom, even in the face of the self-centered and other-sacrificial empire.