What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
The kingdom of heaven is a term for which there is often much confusion. Upon close examination we learn that the kingdom of heaven is not a place in the clouds; it is a city that comes from heaven to earth; it is a garden city; it is a city that is whole; it is a city where shalom reigns, where relationship is complete and restored, in every meaning of restoration, fully restored people to God, to each other and to Creation. The same Creation that God created “good” and seeks to restore has been fully restored through the death and resurrection of Jesus already, but not yet, awaiting its consummation and completion.
The kingdom of heaven is a place where there are no walls, where there is no separation between socio-economic classes, cultures, races, nations and peoples. It is a place that freely shares and gives to all out of the abundance that flows from God’s Spirit, ever-present and evident in all Creation.
What is the Purpose of the Church?
The purpose of the church is to live out this kingdom reality now as it waits for the full consummation and full manifestation of redemption in a broken, shattered and fractal world. The church is to be a sign, an instrument and foretaste of this already/not yet kingdom reality, rippling out, reflecting God’s model in the world.
What is the problem?
The church, the people of God are called to be the light in the darkness, a lighthouse, a sign, and directional post pointing the way. Like most cities, portions of our own city which were once thriving places have been abandoned, but where have all the people gone? In many areas of our own city, a modern day economic Diaspora has taken place. In those areas, whoever can afford to, leaves for better pastures. This is not just a case of white flight; it is black flight; it is economic flight, leaving in its wake a wasteland prime for disorder, chaos and darkness.
The growing economic centers of our city are just as broken, building larger and larger castles, producing larger and larger waste streams, from the flagrant use of money. These growing socio-economic places are not free from brokenness; they just hide it better, behind their walls and castles, porn addictions, drug addictions, buying addictions. Violence is masked, sex is cloaked, and often fathers don’t have time for their children.
Where is the Church?
There is no blame for the poverty, for all are impoverished. Where is the church? The church is in all these places, reflecting the culture, because the church is the culture. The church that God commands is to be a people set apart. On mission, together, in culture, but not of it, to be the light in the darkness, transforming culture to God’s culture of reconciliation, living resurrected lives.
Ripple And Fractal
From fractal to ripple, from ripple to fractal. We must begin with a ripple. Like a stone in the pond, we need to move from the center out. A fractal separates, replicates and grows, a ripple moves from the middle together in unison and harmony replicating outward. Fractal patterns can be both destructive and constructive, ridges to valleys, streams to rivers, rivers to the ocean, eroding away the landscape. But fractals are also the only growth pattern, a vein leaf pattern, roots, branches, leaves, veins, nuero-networks, and many more. Real growth happens through unity in diversty, integrated, not segregated, a network of overlapping connections. But a ripple is a reflection, mimicking and pushing outward as a mirror. Look at a tree. The tree grows through a fractal pattern, it’s roots and branches, downwards and upwards; however, inside the center of the tree we find trees rings and patterned ripple, a symbol and sign of its growth over time. The church needs to learn how to fractal and ripple in unison, growing together, separating and replicating, united; that is, transforming and being transformed.
How does the church begin to transform? It does so by being transformed through the power of the Gospel. To go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, is not just a geographical statement, it is a cultural one. To venture on mission into each of these zones means to cross cultural boundaries, to go to the thing that doesn’t make sense, rippling beyond their boundaries of place and culture. It is intercultural mission. The missionary statement in Acts was spoken to a people who separated themselves from the cultures around them. To love your neighbor, your community, your city, your nation, your world, yourself, means to go into those places, and being used of God to break down the walls of class and culture. The walls must come down and boundaries must be crossed before anything can be rebuilt.