I’ve met Christians who rarely give the reign of God a thought and others who express little practical concern about when or how it might come to pass. I’ve never met a Christian, however, who didn’t claim to hope, at least in general, that the Reign of God would some day be an earthly reality. Of course, that could simply be because to oppose what, by definition, is God’s will sounds like a really bad idea.
Unless we never take our fill of life at the expense of others, we have to admit that there are times and ways in which we act in opposition to God’s intention for our world. To the extent that we benefit from others’ weakness, we will find our benefits being taken away when God’s Spirit reorders the world.
Some maintain that the world can become economically and personally just while the rich and powerful possess all the advantages of wealth and control that they’ve customarily enjoyed. They accuse anyone who contradicts their vision of promoting a win/lose world with a zero sum understanding of our situation. They portray themselves as pursuing a win/win world in which the well-off maintain, even increase their prerogatives so that they can improve the lives of all. This line of thinking is jaw-droppingly self-serving as well as historically unfounded.
This leaves us with an unsettling question. In our desire to see the Reign of God become reality in the lives of the poor and powerless, are we willing to give up some of our power and security? In the current political parlance: are we willing to see our control re-distributed? To what extent are we willing to use our intelligence and abilities to benefit those currently denied their God-given share in life’s beauty?
Scripture often speaks of the suffering that the unjust will endure with the arrival of God’s Reign. It’s not an issue of punishment. It’s a matter of losing prerogatives that they never had a right to in the first place. Where we fit into that discussion is an uncomfortable question but one that makes sense for us all to ask.