John 18.36 (NRSV)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
Scripture tells us a great deal about the Kingdom of God. It is God’s unmerited gift of love, immensely valuable. It is to be hoped for in this world, and yet is something beyond the here and now, a kingdom John 18.36 calls “not from this world.” Above all, it is our desired destination.
We have been taught to work to bring the Kingdom into being. This belief has passed into the broader culture. John Kennedy’s stirring Inaugural Address ended with the words, “here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that God needs our help. That is profoundly wrong.
God allows us to work toward the kingdom so we can show our gratitude for God’s infinite grace. God has no need of our talents and efforts. As Milton said, “His State is Kingly: thousands at his bidding speed and post o’er Land and Ocean without rest.”
The risk in thinking God needs us is that it induces a false pride. We are doing this or that to help God. Aren’t we special! Yet God’s Son (who really was essential to the Kingdom) humbled himself, accepting a shameful and painful death. We too must cultivate humility. Someday we will be within God’s kingdom, knowing Him as we are known. We will have no obligations, only joy as we rest for eternity in the arms of our loving parent. That is God’s destiny for us.
Lord, make us grateful that you allow us to work for your Kingdom. Grant us the humility to understand that our efforts are insignificant in the face of your greatness, yet you love us infinitely anyway. Above all, grant that we may someday be fully united with you, beyond all needs or obligations or pride, eternally safe in the arms of a loving parent. We ask this in the name of our guide on our journey, your Son our Savior, Jesus the Christ.