Growing up to be a child is all about Jesus’ challenge to become like children. This challenge was linked to a purpose: to enter and live in God’s kingdom here and now.
While I believe we can be part of God’s kingdom right now, it is also clear to me that this kingdom of heaven has not yet been fully established. We are living in an in-between time, in which we may see aspects of God’s kingdom but we certainly don’t see it in all its fullness. Children continue to get abused; people continue to use violence to promote their causes; the rich get richer at the expense of those who are poor, vulnerable, and exploited; people continue to get sick, suffer, and die; and our world remains troubled and damaged.
And yet we can look forward to a time when God’s kingdom will come in all its fullness, and the whole of creation will be restored and reconciled to God… a time in which we, too, will be restored and made new – body, mind, heart, and soul. We will be brought into a right relationship with God, with ourselves, with others, and with creation. In this new kingdom, all sin, suffering, and injustice will be overturned and replaced with wholeness, peace, and joy.
Is this a meaningless hope?
In my work, when I spend time with children who have been abused, or with families whose baby has died, or with parents who are struggling to bring up a severely disabled child, that vision of God’s kingdom is largely what keeps me going. It is something I look forward to with hope, and I long for that day when there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. I look forward to the day when heaven and earth come together, when God’s dwelling place will be among his people.