The Sixth “Great End of the Church”
The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world
Salespersons exhibit their products that will lead to an improved life and world.
Visual artists, writers, media moguls exhibit life as it is and as it might become.
The Truth people of faith discern sets before us images/parables/commandments
that describe/define/envision God’s “kingdom” that is “not of this world.”
We glimpse that “kingdom” in the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount.
We sample that “kingdom” every time Jesus crosses lines in the sand
to embrace the stranger, the other, the outsider, the castoff.
We pray for that “kingdom” to come in the “Lord’s Prayer.”
For Jesus, “kingdom of heaven” is not the “kingdom” we only discover
on the other side of the “pearly gates” in “heaven”, but
the “kingdom” possible when the Spirit of Truth prevails in this world,
the “kingdom” already visible in Jesus and God’s work in him.
Every time a miracle is performed, a needy person is healed,
a lonely person is touched, some impossible dream is realized,
a mountain shifts from obstacle to shrine,
some long-standing estrangement is reconciled,
a new road of communication and friendship is open,
we see an exhibition of the “kingdom of heaven.”
What a wonderful climax to the PCUSA’s “great ends of the church”…
to remind the church that we have the responsibility and privilege
of exhibiting God’s “Kingdom of heaven”
by our ministry and faith and practice in the world.
Perhaps it is by our sheltering, truth-seeking, and worshiping
that we become that exhibition.
Perhaps it is by our counter-cultural lifestyle, commitments and sacrifices,
that the Truth continues to be exhibited in the world,
not by an ancient Word but by a present People of the Word.
As people notice us as individuals and a church,
do they glimpse something “otherworldly” breaking into this world’s life?
Flannery O’Connor said: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”
It isn’t bad to be different from those around us, odd in the world’s eyes,
if our oddness sets a freed world on Jesus’ path of kingdom-building.
We are called to be God’s “odd people” who paint “kingdom of God”
on a canvas big enough for all to see…
with no borders or passports or visas but one surrounded by welcome mats…
whose centerpiece is a table of bread and wine, whose Host is the Lord of Life.