The Kingdom of God: Competing Narratives
Dear Kaleid Women,
Spoiler alert - intense truth for a Wednesday morning (sorry.)
Like it or not, as humans, we are all reluctant participants in the perpetuation of brokenness.
This strong statement might provoke resistance, but it also invites us into what it means to be real. To have lived long enough to have gone from stuffed rabbit to real one (in the Velveteen-based sense.) To know.
I’ll bet Sarah knew. She felt her reluctant participation when she realized that her well-intentioned solution for a son that involved Hagar ended up breaking hearts. I’ll bet Peter knew. He felt his reluctant participation when he remembered his blustery promise, his failed resolve, and his silent acquiescence to the cross that broke the body of his dear friend. I’ll also bet that Barnabus and Paul knew. They felt it when their personal fuss added one of the first pages in the book of broken church relationships.
Admittedly, sometimes we are willing participants in brokenness. Once in a while we channel our inner rebel and really go whole hog with intentional “sin” (in the hard core Sunday School sense of the word). But most of the time we are reluctant participants in the perpetuation of this world’s brokenness. We find that our own hearts--our deepest selves with our best intentions--don’t stand up to the rigors of fear, desperation, hope, pain, love, and desire without becoming an unwilling participant in brokenness, perpetuated and passed on to those we love.
This human narrative is the narrative of brokenness that Jesus walked into: eyes open, heart ready, hands outstretched, and ears attuned. He came announcing a different narrative--that the kingdom of God was here, at hand, among us.
Our reluctant participation in the perpetuation of brokenness needs a dramatic treatment that only God can effect. Only God, who is truly just and entirely able to make all things right, can separate the sin from the humans and mend broken hearts, lives, families, systems, and worlds. Only God, who is also truly steadfast and entirely loving, can join the faithfulness of God with the unsteadiness of people and generate life where there was death.
Only God. Coming all the way into the problem itself and solving it from the inside by being broken, can offer us a reliable counter-narrative to the one that we all inhabit. And He comes, offering the other story, even when we resist the irresistibility of unconditional love and the deny the undeniability of our need for divine justice with every fiber of our sweet little industrious (and sometimes self-reliant or even self-righteous) beings.
The kingdom of God story is our only viable counter-narrative. And believing it takes the gift of faith. It takes the kindness of God to lead us to repentance. And just like He did with Peter, Jesus will look us in the eye, speak healing over our human frailty and shame, and bring our dark brokenness into the redemptive healing light of the story of the kingdom. And His story will change our story into one of deep healing, of real life, of gut-level knowing that the brokenness doesn’t have the last word. It never has, and it never will. And we will carry this new story with us into the broken world.
We invite you to walk into this day in the power and the grace of the story of the kingdom, friend.
Psalm 40:1-3 (The Message)
I waited and waited and waited for God.
At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. - For a great conversation about brokenness in the world and God’s gifts in it, watch this conversation between Eugene Peterson and Bono.