Today, we will hear from Josh Keaney:
“The Kingdom of God is God’s vision for God’s creation and this vision is bigger than the Church.” This is what I tell the youth at my church when explaining the Kingdom of God because I am a part time youth minister. It’s also based upon my experiences and observations in North America and the Middle East because I also work part time for Middle East Fellowship.
When I think of the Kingdom of God my mind immediately jumps to several things which I will list and try to explain why.
I Heart Huckabees and Talladega Nights prayer scenes. Because they reveal pop culture’s affirmation of God’s Vision for creation while criticizing what is perceived to be Christian belief & practice. What is the reality verses the perception of the church and the Kingdom? Do we believe and pray to a baby Jesus and are our prayers divorced from God’s vision for restoring all creation including the environment?
Media Eduation Foundation’s video on Edward Said & Orientalism. Beyond the role of the Church in the Middle East… Said & Orientalism should make us re-think our pre-conceived notions of what the Kingdom is (especially in the context of the War on Terror), the purpose of the Church, and most importantly who Christ is. Have we stripped the Kingdom and Jesus who established this Kingdom of political implications? Are our beliefs about the Kingdom based upon misguided, pre-conceived notions from other people who may have visited this Kingdom or upon our concrete experiences in service to the Kingdom?
Sami Awad and the work of Middle East Fellowship’s partner, Holy Land Trust and the nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation which I have had the privilege to witness and support. For example this summer’s protests against Israel stealing land near Bethlehem can be seen here. Because the Kingdom is bigger than the Church and therefore anyone and everyone can build that Kingdom including non-Christians who often understand and live like Jesus better than I do. Are Palestinian Muslims & Christians, Jews, & Internationals using their faith and non-violent resistance to oppose injustice building God’s Kingdom?
A class I took at Fuller from Ryan Bolger entitled, “Church In Mission” and a book for that class, John Fuellenbach’s Church: Community for the Kingdom. Because the Church is supposed to be a nonviolent contrast society in service to the Kingdom and because I was raised to believe the church is the kingdom and we must assimilate people into the church like the Borg assimilate people in Star Trek.
The life and writings of Roger Williams. The theologian and politician who founded the Colony of Providence, learned Algonquin, and is the reason we have a separation of Church and State. Because he gives us a window into what the Kingdom can look like in the midst of imperial colonization and because he challenges my views of the church’s relationship to the world.
“The concern of Jesus was the kingdom, God’s dream for creation. To bring this Kingdom to bear on this world and to transform it into God’s final design, Jesus chose justice and compassion as his life principles. What counted was a basic human solidarity that would not exclude anyone from God’s love and would guarantee that all would be treated as brothers and sisters in the great family of God… The mission of the church must be seen and understood from this perspective: totally in the service of God’s Kingdom designed for the transformation of the whole creation. Once the church is no longer seen as the sole holder of the Kingdom, it does not have to define itself any longer as the kingdom of God under siege by the powers of this world. Since Vatican II the church sees itself more as leaven of the Kingdom or in the service of the Kingdom, which is broader than the church. In other words, a theology of transcendence gives way to a theology of transformation.”
Now that is a vision bigger than me and my religion … that the youth at my church and Palestinian Muslims can understand and live for.
Joshua Keaney (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes the following about himself: I wish I was a luddite, but since my work and entertainment revolves around my mac it’s only an idealistic fantasy. I love dark beer, especially anything from North Coast Brewery…and anything with Scotch, especially a Rusty Nail. The lowest point in my life was when I moved to Los Angeles after serving with the Coptic Church in Upper Egypt. While in L.A. I had no car and road my skate board to the Three Dog Bakery where I baked birthday cakes for hairless chihuahuas and watched people’s pets eat better than me. While in Egypt I discovered the thinnest place on earth is Anafora and the person most like Jesus is Bishop Thomas. I attended a private Christian college, but thankfully married a girl from the local UC who fortunately escaped Campus Crusade on her campus. Melissa, my wife would get a rating of 95 out of 100 on the amazing meter. She is in Law School now and pretty much wears the pants in our relationship which is fine because it allows me to keep my head in the clouds even though I bring home the bacon by working two jobs. I was raised in the Christian and Missionary Alliance but have settled into the Episcopal church. I have come to love Los Angeles where we attempt to make due with sharing a car and paying $1000 for a studio. We live in a primarily latin american neighborhood and Mole Enchiladas have now made it into my top five favorite foods…speaking of top fives, High Fidelity is one of my top five movies. Being raised in Redding in the 51st State of Jefferson I still don’t feel at home in the city and get away to the mountains as often as I can. I have traveled a great deal in the Middle East and am passionate and opinionated about all issues related to the region and its beautiful people. If you are ever in East L.A. send me an email and I’ll buy you a beer at Lucky Baldwins, the best pub on the planet.