The kingdom of God. Basketball. These are not typically consecutive thoughts in my mind. Yet today I can’t help but see them as tied together. Steve Carter’s teaching last night about having eyes to notice the presence and the absence of the kingdom of God planted in me a desire to look more closely at the small moments. Steve reminded us that when Jesus taught us to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” he meant that we should pray that everything that is a reality there, in heaven, would become a reality here, on earth. God, may all that is real and true and present there, become real and true and present here.
I can’t help but think of Paul’s words to the Roman churches, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…” (Romans 14:17) What Steve noticed as his first and second grade basketball team was being beaten by a score of 48-4 was the absence of joy and peace and righteousness (or right relationship). His players’ joy and innocence was being stolen. Their love for team and play and their collective belief in themselves was beginning to falter. There was distress and tears. So, Steve noticed the absence. He prayed for God’s help and wisdom. And then he lived out God’s call to reflect the kingdom of heaven on earth – he spoke words that restored worth, he reached out to remind them of the skill and improvement they had shown, and he identified the right things each child had done.
Notice. Pray. Live.
As we practiced this last night, reflecting on the presence and absence of the kingdom in our family, our work, and our world, I was amazed by how many small moments came to mind. Sometimes when I think about the absence of the kingdom of God, it leads me to despair. I generalize – “Look at the Middle East! There is an absence of the kingdom of God, obviously! There is no hope.” But as we reflected last night, I identified dozens of people and places in the Middle East in which and through which I have seen firsthand the presence, reality, and truth of the kingdom of God. As I considered my family and my work, the same thing happened. And even where I could identify the absence, I could see clearly my role in praying and living out God’s invitation to reflect his kingdom.
I can’t wait to notice, pray, and live this week! Would you join in?
Notice. Where do you notice the presence of God’s kingdom in the now? Where do you notice the absence of God’s kingdom?
Pray. Ask God for his help and his wisdom. God, show me what step I can take to reflect your kingdom in this moment, in this situation, in this person’s life.
Live. Go and do as best you know how to reflect the kingdom of God with the strength and grace of Christ.
As Lynne said in her closing comments, we have no time to despair of the kingdom’s absence. We have been called to make a difference. Let us be the ones who create the cracks for the kingdom of God to break through into the here and now.
May his kingdom come. May his will be done. In us. Through us. Amen.